Call for papers for the 4th Tensions of Europe Plenary Conference & Closing ESF Inventing Europe Conference

June 17-20, 2010, at Sofia University (Bulgaria)

Technology & East-West relations: Transfers, parallel histories, and the European laboratory

Deadline paper abstracts: December 18, 2009

The European Science Foundation (ESF) and the Foundation for the History of Technology in the Netherlands are jointly organizing the final and closing conference of the ESF EUROCORES program Inventing Europe and the bi-annual conference of the Tensions of Europe network (ToE). Inventing Europe and ToE strive, through collaborative research and coordinating efforts, to promote studies of the interplay between technical change and European history. Instead of focusing on national histories, the emphasis of both initiatives is on transnational technological developments that have shaped and are shaping Europe.

We encourage scholars from all disciplines who study subjects related to the overall conference theme or the Inventing Europe/Tensions of Europe intellectual agenda to submit abstracts for the research sessions, roundtables and research collaboration sessions.

Overall Theme of the Conference

The main theme of the conference applies to papers, which treat processes of circulation and appropriation of technologies between Eastern and Western Europe as an entry point into the contested practice of Europeanization. During the Cold War, for instance, Europe has been one of the central laboratories for the experimentation with ideological and political regimes, which deeply infected traditional paths of knowledge and technology transfer in Europe. While the history of the Cold War has mainly been told as a history of discontinuity and fragmentation, we would especially welcome papers and sections dealing with examples of successful co-operation or “hidden continuities” in inter-European technology transfer during the 20th century.

Despite the fact that the focus of the conference will be on the post-World War II period, we will welcome session proposals and individual papers referring to the practices of appropriation and circulation of ideas, skills and people in Europe from the mid-19th century onwards – thus from the period before the notions of Eastern and Western Europe were coined. This results from our conviction that one should look for the roots of the European integration and fragmentation in a “longue duree” perspective.

General areas to be explored are:

– Changing times: Continuities and discontinuities in the transfers of knowledge and technology between Eastern and Western Europe from the mid-19th century to the present.

– Negotiating identities: spaces and places of co-operation or confrontation before, during, and after the Cold War.

– Parallel histories: alternative processes of European integration and fragmentation in Eastern and Western Europe.

– Blurred boundaries: spill-over effects and holes in the Iron Curtain

– Europe as a trading zone, a symbolic battle field, and the diplomatic playground for world hegemony.

– Chilling effects: Technologies at war & wartime technology

– Contested approaches: the merits and pitfalls of concepts like Americanization, Sovietisation, Westernization for European historiography.

In addition, the program committee welcomes papers that want to contribute to the general Inventing Europe/Tensions of Europe intellectual agenda. This agenda treats technological change as an entry point into the contested practice of Europeanization.

Five general areas to be explored are:

– Building Europe through Infrastructures, or, how Europe has been shaped by the material links of transnational infrastructure.

– Constructing European Ways of Knowing, or, how Europe became articulated through efforts to unite knowledge and practices on a European scale.

– Consuming Europe, or, how actors reworked consumer goods and artefacts for local, regional, national, European, and global use.

– Europe in the Global World, or, how Europe has been created through colonial, ex-colonial, trans-Atlantic, and other global exchanges.

– Synthetic methodological or historiographical explorations of the role of technology in transnational European history.

Sessions formats

The Program Committee welcomes proposals that address the overall conference themes in the following four formats:

* Individual paper proposals.

* Research sessions with three papers based on original research, and an invited commentator.

Because the conference encourages debate, appropriate time for discussion should be allocated to the commentators as well as the members of the audience. The papers will be pre-circulated to all conference participants.

Conference participants are expected to have read the papers thus presentations should be brief.

* Roundtable sessions with an open agenda or one paper to start-off the discussion. The sessions will host no more than six discussants including the organizer and the chair. The organizer is responsible for preparing a dialogue paper to stimulate debate, and if relevant, supplementary material. Ideally, the dialogue paper will be a brief piece that poses a number of historical problems and/or questions related to the conference theme that will be addressed in the debate. While the organizer should propose discussants, the Program Committee may make additional suggestions. The chair may decide either to limit the conversation to invited roundtable discussants or to allow the audience to ask questions and enter the debate.

* Research collaboration sessions which are meant to present results of a specific project to the conference. The session could be paper based, but could also focus on a discussion of the framing and wider implications of the specific project. The Program Committee may make additional suggestions for commentators.

Research sessions and research collaboration session will be allotted a minimum time slot of one and a half hours, and roundtable discussions one hour.

Deadlines and Time-line

The deadline for proposals is DECEMBER 18, 2009. The research session abstracts (maximum 600 words) should be submitted by the organizers together with the abstracts for the individual presentations (maximum 500 words each). To propose a roundtable, please submit a list of invited participants and an abstract (maximum 600 words). Note: When giving the proposal a digital file name, please include the organizer’s last name, and either RS for research session, RT for round table or RCS for Research Collaboration Session. So Fickers_RS for example.The abstracts should be sent to the Program Committee by email to [email protected] direct queries to the Program Committee Chair, Andreas Fickers ([email protected]).

The Program Committee will inform the session organizers about its decisions no later than February 15, 2010. Inventing Europe & Tensions of Europe programs are seeking to provide a contribution towards travel and/or accommodation costs for those who have no opportunity to participate otherwise.

Papers and roundtable discussion texts must be submitted to the Program Committee by May 1, 2010 because they will be distributed to all conference participants before the conference on a CD and made available on the website.

For the Program Committee for the Fourth Plenary Conference of Tensions of Europe,

Andreas Fickers, Chair, Maastricht University, The Netherlands

Helena Durnova, Brno University of Technology, Czech Republic

Valentina Fava, Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland

Ivan Tchalakov, Plovdiv University & Institute of Sociology, BAS, Bulgaria


This conference is made possible by:

European Science Foundation

Foundation for the History of Technology

Technical University Eindhoven

University of Sofia

Bulgarian Academy of Science