Category: Workshop

Call for papers: Closing the Gap – How technology changes spatial relationships between humans and animals

Nordic Center in Shanghai, China, March 29-30, 2018

We are organizing a small international workshop at the Nordic Centre in Shanghai at Fudan University that will explore how technology changes the relationship between humans and animals. We will investigate how technology enables co-habitation and interactions between humans and animals. Technology literally and figuratively bridges the distance between them.

This workshop seeks to historicize the cultural relationship between humans, technology, and animals. We want to embed technology into the story of the transformation of the human-animal relationship in both urban and rural settings with technology as an integrated cultural mediator and an agent of change in how humans understand and relate to nature. Our working hypothesis that we seek to explore in the workshop is that technology not only separates, but also connects humans and animals, effectively closing the gap between the two.

This workshop aims to find the most productive meeting points between history of technology and environmental history when thinking about animals, including reaching beyond mainstream history to draw upon animal geography and Science and Technology Studies (STS) approaches. Research into human-animal relations is gaining traction in environmental historical scholarship, such as the recent edited volume The Historical Animal (2015). The field of history of technology has been quite slow at incorporating animals, in contrast to environmental history. Yet, incorporating technology into the history of human-animal relationships is absolutely critical, as demonstrated by Dolly Jørgensen’s article “Not by human hands: Five technological tenets for environmental history in the Anthropocene” (2014). As she shows, animal bodies as well as their relationship with humans is embedded in and modified by technologies. As technology changes, so do human-animal relations.

Each presenting participant will precirculate a new article-length work in draft form. During the workshop, participants will present this research, followed by an in-depth discussion from all participants. This model for running the workshop will focus on giving concrete feedback to the participants in order to make their work both individually stronger and to fit better together as an intellectual product with the other contributions. It is our intention to produce a journal theme issue from select contributions.

To be considered as a participant for this workshop, submit an abstract and an interest statement to workshop organizer Professor Finn Arne Jørgensen at by December 15, 2017. Notifications of acceptance will be made before the end of the year. If you have any questions, you can also contact us through this email.

Note that while there is no fee for participation in the workshop, participants will need to pay for their own travel to and accommodations in Shanghai. Citizens of 51 countries can stay in Shanghai for up to 144 hours (6 days) without a visa (see for more details).

The workshop is arranged with financial support from the Nordic Centre in Shanghai.

Call for Papers: Aesthetics of the Energy Landscape

27-28 May 2016 in Luleå, Sweden

Energy technologies such as hydropower plants not only function as ways to harness resources and the power of nature – they also create cultural meaning. Where technology and the environment meet, for example in a dam built to tap into the power of a waterfall, a specific and often contested aesthetic arises. There is a tension between what is perceived as natural (often linked to the wild and primitive) and what is perceived as technological (often associated with modern and progressive). This workshop will reflect on the ways that technology becomes both contrasted with and linked to the environment and to ideas of modernity through aesthetic valuation. This valuation process becomes historically entangled with negotiation and strife as cultural values and ideas about nature change over time. For example, the windmill is a common object of Romantic paintings, whereas there are protests against modern wind farms for obstructing natural views.

Environmental and technological aesthetic values are often attributed to the sublime – the feeling of awe standing before a fathomless canyon or a monumental dam, as David Nye as eloquently discussed. However, aesthetics at the junction between environment and technology is not restricted to the sublime. Cultural values are ascribed to environments (both natural and cultural ones) and technologies both large and small can come to represent national outlooks, ideas of progress, and ideas of decline.

This workshop will focus on the contribution of the humanities disciplines—history, art history, literature, philosophy, and cultural studies—to studying attitudes toward the envirotechnical landscape, although other disciplines such as cultural geography, sociology, and Science & Technology Studies are welcome to apply as well.

Energy technologies are here broadly interpreted, including but not limited to hydropower dams, watermills, oil derricks, oil production wells, coal/nuclear power plants, windmills, wind farms, solar panels, solar farms, and energy transmission lines.

The workshop will run over 2 days in Luleå, Sweden. There will be 10 participants including the organizer. Airfare and hotel accommodations will be paid for the participants. The planned output is a themed issue of an interdisciplinary journal using selected papers from the workshop.

Submit proposals consisting of an abstract (300-400 words) and a short CV (no more than 2 pages) to Dolly Jørgensen ( no later than 15 January 2016.

Financial support provided by the Area of Excellence in Renewable Energy at Luleå University of Technology