Decoding Europe: Technological Pasts in the Digital Age - 9th ToE Conference (June 2019, Luxembourg)
This conference held at the University of Luxembourg from 27 to 30 June 2019 was the 9th edition. 170 participants from all over Europe, mainly historians of technologies, attended the conference over the four days.
The conference was opened on 27 June 2019 by Prof. Stéphane Pallage, Rector of the University of Luxembourg, Prof. Andreas Fickers, Director of the C2DH, Prof. Aristotle Tympas, Chair of the Management Committee of the Tensions of Europe network, and Prof. Valérie Schafer, Programme Chair.
The conference, organised by the C2DH (Centre for Contemporary and Digital History at the University of Luxembourg), was held in English, with 32 sessions of 2-4 papers. Participants were selected via an open and widely disseminated call for papers and a double peer review process.
In addition to the two keynotes by Prof. Bethany Nowviskie (James Madison University) and Prof. Niels Brügger (Aarhus University), who discussed digitised and born-digital material culture in European history (videos available at: https://www.c2dh.uni.lu/thinkering/decoding-europe-technological-pasts-digital-age), the plenary session, which adopted a theoretical approach to the topic under the heading “Coding Europe, Decoding its History”, and a special event dedicated to media archaeology, 10 sessions (approximately 30% of the sessions) focused on the specific topic Decoding Europe: Technological Pasts in the Digital Age selected for this edition.
Themes that fall under the general research agenda of the Tensions of Europe network (e.g. transnational histories of technology, history of European infrastructures and networks, environment and technology, conflicting interests and technology, technology and hidden integration of Europe, etc.) were also well represented. A plenary session looked at the future of the field investigated by the Tensions of Europe network. The presentations included emerging trends such as maintenance studies, sound studies, etc.
In addition to a broad audience from all over Europe we were also pleased at the participation of scholars from the USA and Asia. One important event was the presentation “Making Modernity in East Asia: Technologies of Everyday Life, 19th-21st Century”, which involved several scholars from the University of Hong Kong.
Special attention was given to the involvement of young researchers:
- The 9th Tensions of Europe conference was preceded by an early career summer school on the topic “Towards Digital Science and Technology Studies: Challenges and Opportunities”. This pre-conference was attended by app. 25 young scholars over three days. In addition to several lectures, discussions with advanced scholars were held, with a final discussion with the US historian Paul Edwards.
- A session of four “My PhD in 10 minutes” presentations led to discussions under the supervision of two advanced scholars (Prof. Jane Winters and Gabriele Balbi).
- 15 travel grants were awarded to young scholars after a process of application and selection by the programme committee.
- A reduced conference fee allowed 38 external young researchers to attend the conference.
The conference was also made possible thanks to the support of FNR, C2DH and sponsors (Luxinnovation, Digital Luxembourg and the Robert Schuman Initiative).
Outcomes of the event were published on the ToE, C2DH and RSI websites (see for example : https://rsiblog.blogactiv.eu/tag/tensions-of-europe/). A report of the conference was submitted by Anne de Floris to the French academic journal Le Temps des Médias. Another report by Aske Hennelund Nielsen is available at http://teknologihistorie.dk/konferencerapport-9th-tensions-of-europe/
Small interviews with Niels Brügger, Andreas Fickers, Bethany Nowviskie, Aristotle Tympas, Jane Winters and Nina Wormbs, addressing the history and challenges of the ToE network or/and technological pasts in the digital age, were recorded during the conference: http://www.toe2019.org/media/
We sincerely thank all participants for their friendly spirit and their exciting contributions to this event.