Technology and the Making of Europe


The first steps towards the Tensions of Europe network were taken in 1999 in a series of exploratory talks between scholars of the Science Museum (London), the Deutsches Museum (Munich), the Royal Institute of Technology (Stockholm), Eindhoven University of Technology, and the Foundation for the History of Technology (Eindhoven). The general feeling after these meetings was that a European network was feasible and needed. Later that year, during the plenary opening session of the annual conference of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) in Detroit, one of the initiators, Johan Schot, sketched the outlines of a European research network. The positive feedback from the international research community resulted in the Tensions of Europe Network with participants from France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States and Sweden. The new network started building an intellectual agenda, expanding the network and raising funds to support network activities.


Intellectual Agenda

Between 2000 and 2004 a series of 20 thematic workshops was organized to strengthen and extend the juvenile network and develop an intellectual agenda as a common base for future research. Central themes of these workshops were the European city, mobility, the rise of the consumer society, colonization and decolonization, agriculture and food, communication, big technological systems, military technology and information systems.

The intellectual agenda ‘Inventing Europe:Technology and the making of Europe from 1850 to the present’ was presented during the first TOE conference in Budapest (Hungary) in the spring of 2004. At that moment around 200 scientists from over 21 countries had already joined the network.


Building a new research agenda: Technology and the Making of Europe's Societal Challenges

In 2016 the new research agenda Technology and the Making of Europe’s Societal Challenges developed. Building on past Tensions of Europe research experience the new agenda wants to address the big issues and crises of our time. Research themes that have been identified until now are: Resources and Colonialism, B/order, Security, Migration, Discourses of Crisis, Science Diplomacy, Disruptive Technologies, Urban Challenges/Urban Mobility, Labour, Health, Financial Crisis, Environment. This list serves as starting point. Scholars and institutions are invited to get involved and join developing theme groups or propose new themes. More information can be found here.


Collaborative Research Projects

The TOE research agenda inspired a series of (inter)national research applications. In 2006 this resulted in the EUROCORES programme Inventing Europe: Technology and the Making of Europe, 1850 to the Present. This programme, consisting of four extensive collaborative research projects, was sponsored by the European Science Foundation and 11 national research councils. For TOE this was a major breakthrough. In addition, the work of several other nationally funded research programmes feeds into the TOE research agenda.

A PhD program with partners in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands was designed to involve Central and Eastern Europe in the network and the research. In 2010 the Karen Johnson Freeze Fellowship Fund was established to further stimulate the work of young scholars in these regions.



The research results are communicated in various ways: through books articles, lectures, exhibitions and new media. TOE also created its own platforms to present the results of its (ongoing) research to various audiences: biennial TOE conferences offer scholars the possibility to present their findings and ideas to a scientific audience, while the working paper series stimulates scholars to share and get feedback on their ongoing research. The Technology and European History Series, in its turn, invites (young) scholars to publish their work, and in the years to come the virtual exhibit will open up the results for an even broader audience.


On top of that, the coming years will witness the publication of a new history of Europe. By means of the six-volume book series Making Europe: Technology and Transformations, 1850-2000  the research results will be further disseminated to a broad scholarly community, ranging from historians, to social scientists, and engineers, officials and policy makers, students, and those who are simply fascinated by European history. A virtual exhibit will accompany the book series.


TOE Meetings

To stimulate interaction and scientific debate between scholars TOE organizes biannual conferences, summer schools and workshops.


TOE Conferences:

  • Budapest (Hungary) March 17-20, 2004
  • Lappeenranta (Finland) May 25-28, 2006
  • Rotterdam (The Netherlands) June 7-10, 2007
  • Lissabon (Portugal) October 9-11, 2008 (TOE general meeting)
  • Sofia (Bulgaria) June 17-20, 2010
  • Copenhagen (Denmark) October 3-4, 2012
  • Paris (France) September 19-21, 2013)
  • Stockholm (Sweden) September 3-6, 2015


TOE Summerschools:

  • Bordeaux (France) September 18-22, 2006: Tales of integrating and fragmenting Europe: The role of infrastructures 1850-2000
  • Ockenheim (Germany) July 8-13, 2007: Technologies and their environments: The circulation of materials, people and knowledge in twentieth century Europe
  • Chios (Greece) and Izmir (Turkey) August 27 – September 1 2007: Cold War Technology in Europe
  • Munich (Germany) September 8-13, 2008: Europeanization, Globalization, Americanization, Sovietization, Conceptual Tools of Framing the History of Technology in Europe
  • Turku (Finland) August 10-15, 2009: Oral History and Technological Memory: Challenges in Studying European Pasts
  • Cité de Télécoms (France) September 14-18, 2009: History of electronic images: a long term perspective



The activities of the Tensions of Europe network have been made possible by generous sponsors, among others:

  • American Embassy The Hague
  • Amsterdam School for Social Science Research
  • Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Fund Sweden
  • Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
  • Deutsches Museum
  • Dutch Association of Insurers
  • Eindhoven University of Technology
  • European Science Foundation
  • Fondazio Cassa di Risparmio di Torino
  • Fundacao da Faculdade de Ciencias e Technologia
  • Foundation for the History of Technology
  • Generalitat de Catalunya, Department dÚniversitats, Recerca i Societat de la Informacio
  • German Research Council (Darmstadt bijeenkomst)
  • Ministery of Economic Affairs, The Hague
  • Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnologia
  • Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
  • NW Posthumus Institute
  • Royal Institute of Engineers in the Netherlands (KIVI-NIRIA)
  • Royal Netherlands Academy of Art and Sciences (KNAW)
  • Society for the History of Technology (SHOT)
  • Swiss National Science Foundation
  • University of Amsterdam
  • University of Sofia
  • University of Plovdiv
  • University of Turku
  • USA National Science Foundation
  • Visegrad Fund
  • WTMC