Places of Progress? Re-Evaluating the Sites of High Tech Controversies

Daniel Brandau's picture
Type: 
Conference
Date: 
September 16, 2019 to September 18, 2019
Location: 
Germany
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Historic Preservation, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, Public History

Advanced technologies or ‘revolutionary’ technological systems are often deemed controversial, risky or ambivalent. Diverging interpretations clash when their places of development or use are turned into heritage sites through practices of remembrance or museumization. Understanding technological sites as “lieux de mémoire” (Pierre Nora) shifts our focus to the actors engaged in processes of remembering modern technologies, and the cases in which established narratives have been supported or challenged on local levels. Questions about the ethics of technology use often seem to subvert stories of the ‘heroes of invention‘, leaving visitors with the impression of ambivalent historical places. ‘Places of Progress‘ aims at investigating past and current challenges of remembering modern ‘high technologies’ (both military and civilian), such as weapons, information and communication technologies, transportation infrastructures, nuclear energy or nanotechnology, at or through their historical sites.

The conference investigates the argument that histories of technology have often upheld a traditional view of modern linear progress, but became the focus of controversies when particular sites and objects were employed in exhibitions and other forms of remembrance. Contributions from various disciplines, ranging from science and technology studies to public history and heritage studies, examine the agendas, stakeholders, practices and institutions involved in remembering technologies. How have sites and technological objects been used to create traditions or consolidate cultural memories, to support or undermine established historiographies? Have postmodern debates transformed enthusiasm into nostalgia? What has been willfully ‘forgotten’ to promote divergent narratives?

The conference is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.

If you wish to attend this conference, please register by 10 September 2019 at: meta-peenemuende[at]tu-braunschweig.de

 

CONFERENCE PROGRAM

MONDAY, 16 September 2019

13:30 Welcome: DANIEL BRANDAU and CONSTANZE SEIFERT-HARTZ (Braunschweig)

13:40 Introduction: PHILIPP AUMANN and CHRISTIAN KEHRT (Braunschweig/Peenemünde)

14:00 PANEL 1: NUCLEAR PLACES

Chair: CHRISTIAN KEHRT (Braunschweig)

KARENA KALMBACH (Eindhoven): The Contested Memory of the Nuclear Age

CHRISTIAN GÖTTER (München): Lost in Progress? The Displacement of Pre-Technological Perceptions

15:00 Coffee Break

15:30 Film „Prüfstand 7” and discussion with director ROBERT BRAMKAMP

Chair: PHILIPP AUMANN (Peenemünde)

17:30 Evening Reception

TUESDAY, 17 September 2019

10:00 PANEL 2: MILITARY HERITAGE

Chair: VERENA BUTT (Hannover)

DIRK SCHREIBER (Berlin): The Me 262 at the Technikmuseum Berlin: An Aircraft between Technical Revolution and Forced Labour

BEATE WINZER (Berlin): Infrastructures and Heritage: Segregate Memories at the former Tempelhof Airport

RALF BÜLOW (Berlin): Bunker and Bauhaus: Lost Places of Computing History

11:30 Coffee Break

12:00 PANEL 3: ROCKET CITIES

Chair: STEFAN HÖRDLER (Weimar/Göttingen)

DANIEL BRANDAU / CONSTANZE SEIFERT-HARTZ (Braunschweig): Meta-Peenemünde: Remembering Second World War Technologies in East Germany, from the 1980s to Today

SUSAN MCCLAMROCH (New Orleans): Defying the "Huntsville School": the 2001 & 2010 Mittelbau-Dora Exhibitions in Rocket City, USA

13:00 Lunch

14:00 PANEL 4: TECHNO-UTOPIAS

Chair: CONSTANZE SEIFERT-HARTZ (Braunschweig)

DAVID FREIS (Münster): Hospitals of the Future: The Rise and Fall of the Medical Megastructure in Western Germany

PATRYK WASIAK (Warsaw): Abandoned Sites of Polish Electronics Manufacturing Plants and the Imaginary of an Alternative Socialist Modernity

15:00 Coffee Break

15:30 PANEL 5: SOUNDS AND IMAGES

Chair: DANIEL BRANDAU (Braunschweig)

ANDREW CROSS (Brighton): An Archaeology of Childhood in Southern England: Rethinking Military Landscape

ANNA G. PIOTROWSKA (Kraków): The Role of Music in the Space of Progress: Revisiting Tron: Legacy

16:30 PANEL 6: (POST)COLONIAL INFRASTRUCTURES

Chair: MARTIN LÜCKE (Berlin)

MAURITS W. ERTSEN (Delft): The Gezira Irrigation Scheme as a Contested Place Of Progress

NORMAN ASELMEYER (Florence): What Sired the Nation? The Uganda Railway and Memory Work in Kenya, 1890–2000

WEDNESDAY, 18 September 2019

10:00 PANEL 7: OUTER SPACES

Chair: MARIE-LUISE HEUSER (Braunschweig)

MICHAEL J. NEUFELD (Washington D.C.): The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and “The Romance of Technological Progress”

RAJENDRA THAKUR (Chandigarh): Space Museum in India: Enduring Memories of Half a Century of Space Initiatives

11:00 Coffee Break

11:30 PANEL 8: RESOURCES

Chair: JOACHIM BLOCK (Braunschweig)

ERIK THORSTENSEN (Oslo): Adventure and tragedy: The Norwegian Petroleum Museum’s Exhibition on Climate Change

KATARZYNA JAROSZ (Wrocław): Mining the Past: Converting Former Mines into Tourist Attractions

12:30 Lunch

13:30 PANEL DISCUSSION

14:30 Coffee and End of Conference

Contact Info: 

Constanze Seifert-Hartz / Daniel Brandau
Technische Universität Braunschweig
Institut für Geschichtswissenschaft
Schleinitzstr. 13
D-38106 Braunschweig