CfP: "Chill Technologies: Environmental Infrastructures of Cold," Society for the History of Technology, 2020

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Call for Papers
February 12, 2020 to February 19, 2020
Louisiana, United States
Subject Fields: 
Architecture and Architectural History, Environmental History / Studies, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Urban History / Studies, Rural History / Studies

We are crafting an open session for the annual meeting of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), to be held October 7-11, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

If the description for the session "Chill Technologies: Environmental Infrastructures of Cold" below fits your work, please consider submitting a one-page abstract (500 words max) and a one-page CV (300 words max) to and

We will accept abstracts until Wednesday, February 19.

Betsy Frederick-Rothwell & Jesse Ritner


Chill Technologies: Environmental Infrastructures of Cold


Betsy Frederick-Rothwell, School of Architecture, The University of Texas at Austin,

Jesse Ritner, Department of History, The University of Texas at Austin,

Despite historical discourses presuming the natural relationship between coldness and productivity, there is nothing inherently productive about people in a cold environment, nor is there anything inherently more productive about cold environments in general.  Coldness, without technological intervention, risks hindering as much as assisting social, cultural, and economic production.  This session invites papers focused on coldness as an action rather than as a state.  “Chill Technologies” solicits research that considers how bodies, landscapes, buildings, machinery, and institutions are made more or less “efficient” through scientific, economic, gendered, or racialized knowledge.  In the process we hope to provoke discussions that place both ‘indoor’ and ‘outdoor’ environments in a common framework, in the process rethinking the ways in which coldness reframes material boundaries. Broadly speaking, this session seeks to explore both the ideological and material implications of cold technologies in contexts that are historically and spatially situated.

Participants are encouraged to consider the multiple realms in which local and confined cold technologies constructed, intersected with, or challenged larger global systems of material production and environmental mediation. As the session organizers, we are particularly interested in the spatial and environmental dimensions of these technologies, and we invite participants from a broad range of national and global regions. Some suggested areas for consideration are the spatial boundaries evoked by cold technologies practices, the scales of technological intervention in the environment, and the relationship of these technologies to ideas of human health and productivity, but we welcome any readings of the subject. Proposals examining diverse geographies and timespans are encouraged.

Procedure: Those interested in joining this session should submit a one-page abstract (500 words maximum) and a one-page CV (300 words maximum) with current contact information. Please email these materials to and no later than February 19, 2020.

Note: If you will be a first time SHOT presenter and wish to be considered for the Robinson Prize, please indicate this in your abstract and send a separate notification email to with the subject “Robinson Prize.”

Contact Info: 

Betsy Frederick-Rothwell, School of Architecture, The University of Texas at Austin,

Jesse Ritner, Dept of History, The University of Texas at Austin,

Contact Email: