Symposium on the Social History of Military Technology
Location: Finland
Symposium Deadline: 2009-11-15
Proposals are sought for papers to be presented in the Fifth ICOHTEC Symposium on the Social History of Military Technology, to take place in Tampere, Finland, 10–15 August 2010, as part of the program for the annual meeting of the International Committee for the History of Technology (ICOHTEC). For more information about the 2010 ICOHTEC conference, see the website: The most recent symposium, the fourth, was held in Budapest in July 2009. It comprised 16 papers in five well-attended sessions, most of which will be published in Vulcan: The Social History of Military Technology, a new journal devoted to scholarship on the historical interactions of military institutions with science, technology, and medicine. We anticipate publishing articles from the Tampere conference in Vulcan as well.
The history of military technology usually centers on weaponry, warships, fortifications, or other physical manifestations of warfare, emphasizing how they were made or how they worked. Historians have also tended to assume a strictly utilitarian and rational basis for military technological invention and innovation. However necessary, such approaches largely ignore some very important questions. What are the contexts of social values, attitudes, and interests, non-military as well as military, that shape and support (or oppose) these technologies? What are the consequences of gender, race, class, and other aspects of the social order for the nature and use of military technology? Or, more generally: How do social and cultural environments within the military itself or in the larger society affect military technological change? And the indispensable corollary: How does changing military technology affect other aspects of society and culture? In brief, this symposium will address military technology as both agent and object of social change, taking a very broad view that encompasses not only the production, distribution, use, and replacement of weapons and weapon systems, but also communications, logistic, medical, and other technologies of military relevance. It seeks papers about: (1) representations of weapons as well as weapons themselves, about ideas as well as hardware, about organization as well as materiel; (2) ways in which social class, race, gender, culture, economics, or other extra-military factors have influenced and been influenced by the invention, R&D, diffusion, or use of weapons or other military technologies; (3) the roles that military technologies play in shaping and reshaping the relationships of soldiers to other soldiers; soldiers to military, political, and social institutions; and military institutions to other social institutions, most notably political and economic; and/or (5) historiographical or museological topics that discuss how military technology has been analyzed, interpreted, and understood in other fields, other cultures, and other times.
Each proposal should include: (1) a short descriptive title; (2) an abstract of no more than 250 words; (3) a 1-page CV or resumé with your educational history, professional employment history, list of significant publications and/or presentations, and current contact information (including email address). You may include other relevant information in the CV, as long as you do not exceed the 1-page limit. The deadline for proposal is unusually early for this conference. Proposals must reach the organizer, Bart Hacker, no later than 15 November 2009. Send your proposals to Hacker at:
B. Hacker
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, DC 20560-0620
Email: [email protected]