CFP: 2021 Prague International Congress of History of Science and Technology

Katharina Steiner's picture
Call for Papers
May 22, 2020
Czech Republic
Subject Fields: 
History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Environmental History / Studies, Maritime History / Studies, Popular Culture Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies

The International Commission for the History of Oceanography is seeking abstract submissions for two proposed sessions at the 2021 Prague International Congress of History of Science and Technology (for details, see:  Please send proposed abstracts or questions by Friday May 22nd to Penelope Hardy at or Helen Rozwadowski at


Session A:  Wet Ecologies: The Media in (Under)Water Worlds

This session investigates the oceans as envirotechnical systems, examining the social, epistemological, and technological dimensions of ocean environments as well as the cultural conditions that produce and exchange them. How have both knowledge and imaginaries of the ocean environment circulated between different actors, national contexts, technologies, disciplines, and domains? Media in classical understanding (newspapers, books, films, pictures) and in broader function (scientific representations, objects, models, and displays) bridge the gap between different approaches to (under)water worlds. What media make that circulation possible and mediate the wide range of interests in the ocean? What is the life-cycle of particular epistemological objects, technologies, social communities, and imaginaries?


Session B:  Re-scaling & De-centering the History of Oceanography: The ‘Hidden Figures’ and Hidden Dimensions of Global Ocean Science

Historians of marine science and exploration have traditionally placed western maritime powers at the centers of their accounts. This interpretation is compounded by the longstanding practice of using state-sponsored expeditions as the defining marker of oceanographic progress. Many of these narratives present the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union as having by far the greatest impact on the history of oceanography.  However, this framing risks obscuring the role of many other participants. Not only have actors from landlocked nations participated in marine science and exploration, but in some cases small nation states have played an outsized role in ocean science, exploration, and governance (i.e. Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Monaco, Malta).  The traditional view also risks obscuring the role of various other participants (indigenous, female, and other underrepresented groups) in the scientific work of marine science whose labor has been ignored or purposely obscured. Similarly, island nations far from the conventional centers of Western science have vital perspectives and knowledge traditions that demand more historical attention, especially in cases when they are most vulnerable to environmental crises.  This session invites participants to re-examine our interpretations of the history of marine science using unconventional  perspectives, scales, or dimensions. Ocean science takes its stage upon a global ocean. In what diversity of places has marine science been situated? And who are the participants who have often been ignored?

Contact Info: 

Katharina Steiner

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow

History of Science, Medicine, and Technology

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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