Annual Meeting Society for the History of Technology
New Orleans, 18-21 November, 2021
Conference Theme: Environment, Infrastructure, and Social Justice
Infrastructure is an inherently social mode for the modification of natural environments. It is the most basic form of sociotechnical collaboration; it is fundamental to society’s functions; and it is indispensable for other technological developments. Infrastructure requires vision, planning, engineering, management, and maintenance. It also necessitates considerations of risk and an anticipation of environmental events with potential to seriously impact human lives and nonhuman landscapes. Colloquially described as “natural disasters,” these events become “disasters” only when infrastructure fails.
At the same time, infrastructure is also a symbol of nationhood and civilization. It is often cited as a justification for conflict, imperialism, and displacement. The benefits that it offers and harm that it causes are not distributed equally. Those who are displaced or otherwise affected by new infrastructure projects too often do not experience their benefits. And when infrastructure fails, the harm often falls disproportionately on those who are already socially and economically disadvantaged.
We invite SHOT participants to reflect on these themes from a historical as well as a contemporary perspective, and with respect to a variety of socio-cultural environments. Among the aspects which deserve discussion are how infrastructure modifies human and natural environments; how risk assessment influences infrastructure planning; how different societies approach infrastructure vis-à-vis other forms of technological development; and how climate change brings about reassessments of infrastructural needs.
For the 2021 meeting the Program Committee welcomes proposals of these types:
Joint SHOT/HSS sessions: Since this meeting will be held in conjunction with HSS, it is possible to submit a proposal that speaks to both SHOT and HSS communities, and which would appear on both programs. When submitting a joint proposal, indicate this fact in the abstract and make sure to submit an identical proposal through the HSS website. The Program Committees of both societies will evaluate these joint proposals. (The proposal may meet the formatting requirements of either society.) SHOT and HSS plan to stream at least some of the joint sessions. Please indicate whether your panel is interested in being a hybrid session.
Traditional sessions: Sessions of 3 or 4 papers, with a chair listed in the session proposal. It is not necessary to have a commentator. However, if a commentator has a central role in the session, they will be counted as an additional speaker. Deadline: April 18, 2021
Unconventional sessions: Sessions with formats that diverge in useful ways from traditional sessions. These can include (but are not limited to) roundtables, discussion panels, workshop-style sessions with pre-circulated papers, “you write, I present” sessions, and poster sessions. Poster proposals should describe the content and the visual material to be used in the poster. Individuals whose posters are accepted must be available to talk about them in a lunch/evening slot to be decided by the Program Committee. The Program Committee encourages other creative formats to facilitate communication, dialogue, and audience involvement. The Program Committee will look favorably on formats that make sessions less hierarchical and reduce the ‘distance’ between audience and author, and between author and commentator. Deadline: April 18, 2021.
Open sessions: Individuals interested in finding others to join an organized session may propose Open Sessions, starting March 15, with a final deadline of April 7. Open Session descriptions, along with the organizer’s contact information, will appear on the SHOT website. (The earlier the proposal is sent to SHOT, the earlier it can be posted to the website.) For individuals who want to join a proposed session from the Open Sessions list, please contact the organizer for that session, not the Program Committee. In order to give the session organizer sufficient time to select proposals and assemble a final list of presenters, the deadline for submitting your paper proposal to the organizer is April 7, 2021. Open Session organizers will then assemble completed sessions and submit them through SHOT’s online system by April 18, 2021.
Individual papers: Proposals for individual papers will be considered, but the Program Committee will give preference to pre-organized sessions (traditional, unconventional, or completed open sessions). Scholars who might ordinarily propose an individual paper are encouraged to propose Open Sessions themselves or to join an Open Session already listed. Deadline: April 18, 2021.
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