Infrastructures enable the proper functioning of modern societies. Due to their material existence and their working as assembled structures, they interact with humans, non-humans, objects, and the environment. In doing so, they exercise agency and shape human life. Being the first of its kind, this Herrenhausen Conference, generously sponsored by the Volkswagen Foundation, explores the materiality of infrastructure from a historical perspective and contributes to innovative approaches in historiography and infrastructure research.
Interdisciplinary dialogue is central for this workshop because research on infrastructure and materiality have been particularly innovative in neighboring disciplines such as anthropology and geography. By asking how the materiality of infrastructure shaped societies and environments and by examining possible ways to investigate this materiality from a historical perspective, the workshop aims at stimulating historical scholarship, which has hardly engaged with material sources so far, as well as recent debates on the Anthropocene and globalization processes.
The event provides twenty international experts in infrastructure research with the opportunity to discuss these questions. Pre-circulated papers and a concise presentation form, as well as a joint reading session of key literature and a concluding roundtable with senior scholars, allow for sufficient time for exchange and debate. The panels discuss the workshop theme by introducing historical case studies from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Topics are: (1) material infrastructures, social order, and statehood, (2) the ability of different materialities to enable the circulation of objects, (3) material stability and fluidity, (4) the effect of different materials on a single infrastructure, and finally the (5) ephemerality and (6) invisibility of the materiality of infrastructure.
Due to the Corona crisis and the postponement of the event, originally scheduled for 2020, we are able two add two new papers to the conference, preferably presented by Ph.D. candidates or Postdocs from Germany or neighboring countries. The meeting will be held in person if the overall situation allows. Travel expenses will be covered. Please send your proposal (300 words) and a short CV to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com by March 15, 2021.