In-n-Out California: Circulating Things and the Globalization of the West Coast
Organizers: Tiago Saraiva, Cathryn Carson, Massimo Mazzotti
UC Berkeley, 5-7 September 2013
Co-sponsored by the UC Berkeley Office for History of Science and Technology and the Drexel University STS Center.
Scholars interested in the history of the West Coast have thoroughly explored the material culture of California. Square tomatoes, rockets, dams, surf boards, cyclotrons, LSD, or iPods are all common ingredients in the making of historical narratives of the Golden State. Strangely enough, many such narratives have too much of a local flavor: they donít fully acknowledge the global circulation of those things that have produced California. This workshop deals with the double process of getting things In-n-Out of California, pointing, for example, to the ways, on the one hand, that Californian agribusiness relied on a constant supply of new varieties of crops brought into the state by plant hunters crossing many disparate regions of the globe, while, on the other hand, its standardized products, be it oranges, avocados, or wine, were shipped to international markets and became cases in point in the globalization of food. We point to globalization in the double sense that those things were the result of multiple trajectories originating from all over the world converging in California, at the same time that many things found their way out of California to produce what is commonly perceived as the globalized world.
We are well aware of the trickiness and looseness associated with the concept of globalization. Too frequently the buzzword is used uncritically to cover the lack of a proper understanding of concrete historical dynamics. Indeed, one of the aims of the workshop is to get some grip on globalization by exploring narratives from the ground up through the circulation of concrete things. Specifically, a quick look at the list of things we can identify with the presence of California in the world reveals the historical relevance of engineersí and scientistsí work in putting them in circulation. It may be suggestive to think of places like laboratories as centers of circulation where things come in, are processed, and get ready to sustain new worlds.
We expect spatial issues to play an important role in our discussions. We are interested in exploring the ability of California history to help us deal with the different scales involved in historical explanations at large. California has the potential to problematize taken-for-granted notions of what constitutes the local, the region, the nation, the empire, or the globe. It also promises a fertile ground for the growing community of scholars interested in transnational historical dynamics.
We welcome approaches that reveal the intricate historical processes of circulating things and making California a global space. Papers dealing with the many obstacles involved in getting things In-n-Out, and offering a sober reminder that globalization is no teleological tale, are strongly encouraged: the multiple failed copies of Silicon Valley spread around the globe, or the many tropical crops that failed to thrive in the Californian Garden of Eden. The same example of the In-N-Out burger chain also suggests how standardized things, in this case fast- food, can retain their local identity and have troubles in getting out of the West.
What travels attached to those things? Identities, skills, politics, markets, all contribute to make them thick things good to think with for scholars haunted by what globalization historically means. By calling for contributions from historians of science and technology, historians of the West, world historians, environmental historians, and Science and Technology Studies scholars, we want to establish the crucial place of California in globalization narratives and better understand the making of California.
Paper proposals should be about 300 words, accompanied by a short author bio. The deadline for consideration is April 20. Successful proposals will be announced by May 15. In order to make for productive working sessions, paper prototypes (powerpoints accepted) will be pre-circulated. These should be detailed enough to present the authorís argument and materials, but also open and experimental to engage discussion. Paper prototypes are due on July 10.
Travel and lodging expenses in Berkeley will be covered by the organizers.
A follow-up to the Berkeley event will take place at Drexel University in Philadelphia in 2014 to prepare a collective volume for publication. Travel and lodging expenses will also be provided.
Please send proposals to all of the conference organizers
Tiago Saraiva firstname.lastname@example.org, Cathryn Carson email@example.com, Massimo Mazzotti firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of History and Politics
3250-60 Chestnut Street - Suite 3025
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Phone: (215) 895-2463
Fax: (215) 895-6614 Email: email@example.com
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