Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: Dec. 10, 2022, 8:11 a.m. Humanist 36.290 - events: history of technology

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 36, No. 290.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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        Date: 2022-12-08 11:33:39+00:00
        From: Friedrich Steinle <friedrich.steinle@TU-BERLIN.DE>
        Subject: 43rd History of Technology Conference

43^rd History of Technology Conference

Good, Durable, Safe. Quality and Safety Requirements of Technology in

Call for Papers

On November 17 and 18, 2023, the 43^rd History of Technology Conference
of the Iron Library (TGT) will take place at the Klostergut Paradies in
Schlatt near Schaffhausen (Switzerland). Since 1978, it has provided an
outstanding platform for exchange between research, teaching, and
industry. The speakers and the invited guests come from universities,
libraries, collections and museums or contribute their business and
industrial experience. The conferences are renowned for the breadth and
topicality of the papers presented. Information on previous conferences
can be found at: <>.

The event is organized by the Iron Library (Eisenbibliothek), Foundation
of Georg Fischer Ltd. Responsibility for the content of the conference
is in the hands of the scientific advisory board, whose members include
Prof. Dr. Gisela Hürlimann (TU Dresden), Prof. Dr. Friedrich Steinle (TU
Berlin) and Prof. Dr. Marcus Popplow (KIT).

We invite interested persons involved in research, teaching and practice
to apply to present a paper.

*Conference topic in 2023: Good, Durable, Safe. Quality and Safety
Requirements of Technology in History*

In addition to functionality and aesthetics, quality and safety are
central goals of technological development and production. Quality and
safety are just as relevant for the manufacturing process of technical
equipment and products as for their use. This applies to the materials
used and the manufacturing processes as well as to the end products:
from buildings to vehicles, machine elements or computer chips to
foodstuffs or active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Even in pre-industrial trade, guilds sought to comprehensively ensure
the quality standards of products. In the course of the Modern Period,
it was not only manufacturers and companies who were concerned with
questions of quality and safety; rather, these were increasingly
negotiated by society. Governmental and state actors assumed control and
regulatory functions that were institutionalized, standardized and
legally fixed. In this way, they also responded to the complaints and
claims of users and consumers. Scientific actors produced damage
assessments as well as test procedures for individual technologies. The
scope of such measures has expanded in the historical process: While the
initial focus was on accident prevention, ensuring efficient production
processes and customer satisfaction, in the second half of the 20^th
century the demands expanded to include environmentally relevant
aspects. Discussions about environmental legislation, the safety of
nuclear technology or autonomous driving also dealt with questions of
product liability and its limits. In all of this, massive disparities
are apparent in different types of operations and industries, but
especially in a global comparison. The current question is to what
extent established standards for the operation and use of technology
need to be renegotiated in view of the climate crisis.

The history of technology has continually paid attention to the
historical development of quality control, materials and material
testing and the establishment of corresponding control procedures.
Emphasis has been placed on industrial production, occupational health
and safety, and civil engineering. With a view to long-term utilization
processes, the reaction to accidents and technological catastrophes is
investigated in a society-wide perspective, when standards for quality
and safety have proven to be insufficient. Currently, research on reuse
and reparability is also raising questions about the quality and safety
of technology. Such topics are addressed in a broad and
interdisciplinary field of research that includes the history of science
as well as the history of construction technology or historical risk

The 2023 TGT focuses on the genesis and implementation of quality and
safety requirements at the interface of technical production and use and
invites discussion of the following questions: How did control and
testing procedures develop in the historical longue durée and from which
groups of actors did impulses for corresponding measures come? What role
did developments play in technical practice from shipbuilding to daring
architectural projects and transport infrastructure on the one hand, and
in sciences such as chemistry, strength of materials and materials
science on the other? How did companies act in the area of conflict
between quality assurance measures and economic objectives? What role
did quality and safety play in corporate culture and marketing? How did
corresponding demands affect the design of work processes or the search
for new raw materials and materials? How did informal technical
standards become established in craft enterprises or in the absence of
official control? What interactions become visible at the intersection
of companies, politics, and the public? And what role did quality and
safety standards play in the globalization of production processes? Case
studies from all historical epochs and world regions are welcome, as are
overarching theses and discussions of methodological issues.
Contributions from different disciplines of the historical sciences and
from the museum sector are equally welcome.


The presentation time is 20 minutes. Presentation languages are English
or German (with English slides). Conference proceedings with English
abstracts of all papers will be prepared by the organizers. Conference
papers will be published in the journal /Ferrum/, a journal published by
the Iron Library.

*Synopsis and timelines*

Applicants are invited to send their exposé of max. 3'000 characters (or
400 words) in English or German with a current CV to Franziska Eggimann
(, Head of the Iron Library, by
February 28, 2023. Speakers will be selected by the end of April 2023.

*Organizational matters*

The Iron Library will cover the travel expenses of the speakers as well
as the costs for accommodation and meals during the conference. We
expect speakers to attend the entire conference.

*Contact person*

Franziska Eggimann, Head Iron Library and Corporate Archivist Georg
Fischer Ltd

Prof. Dr. Friedrich Steinle
Wissenschaftsgeschichte/ History of Science
Inst. f. Philosophie, Literatur-, Wissenschafts- und Technikgeschichte
Technische Universitaet Berlin, Sekr. H 23
Strasse des 17.Juni 135
10623 Berlin/ Germany
Tel. (+49/ 0)-30-314-24016/-73815
Fax (+49/ 0)-30-314-25962

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