Call for papers - Proposal for a session at the European Social Science History Conference (Vienna, 23-26 April 2014)
Session organizers: Britt Denis and Ellen Janssens (University of Antwerp)
Technologies @ home: uses, practices and negotiation of new technologies in nineteenth-century urban homes
Of particular interest to the organizers of this session is research into the plurality and fluidity of everyday practices and the creative behavior of the users of new home technologies. Foregrounding the ‘co-construction’ of nineteenth-century home technologies – the networked interplay between the market, households, civil society and the state – is this session's main goal.
The history of home technologies still conjures images of revolutions and heroics. A lot of research has drawn attention to the new machines and techniques that made the ‘Industrial Revolution’ possible, often written from the perspective of the innovative producers. Instead it could be argued that precisely the flood of new technologies entering the home was truly revolutionary.
In glossing over the momentous feats of the men that made industrial society (gender-bias intended!), work on the ‘long’ nineteenth-century has most often ended up in narratives being constructed in a linear, almost teleological vein. New technologies entering urban homes were determined to succeed due to their supposedly superior intrinsic qualities, their capacity to improve living conditions, and so on. Yet, technologies never operate in such one-dimensional way: they are being used in sometimes unintended and unforeseen fashion; they create new interactions and impact upon people’s practices, routines and habits of everyday live; and, last but not least, they generate political discourse, contestation and action.
To nuance the impact of new technologies on the home and its inhabitants, we welcome papers studying the myriad of ways through which these were made compatible with the day-to-day practice and their effect on resource use, household relations and so on. We also hope to include papers covering the divergences that arose through home technologies, between social groups, but also within the confines of the home. Despite their rapid spread across traditional class boundaries, the introduction of new home technologies tended to deepen social inequalities, since the majority of the lower ranks were being denied access to them. Moreover, the reinforcement of such social divergences around home technologies was supported by the changing requirements on what was considered a respectable and comfortable urban home, which can also be addressed.
Please send abstracts (500 words), including title, name, affiliation and contact details to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org before May 13th, 2013. Accepted papers will be sent, together with this session proposal, to the organizers of the European Social Science History Conference.
The organizers hope to include this session in the “Material and consumer culture” network, and aim to reach out to the “Technology” and “Health and environment” networks as well. For further information on the European Social Science History conference, please visit: http://esshc.socialhistory.org
University of Antwerp
2000 Antwerp (Belgium)
+32 3265 4262
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