Thematic Approaches to the Study of Science Drift 25, Rm. 105 Organized Session
24 Jul 2019 04:00 PM - 06:00 PM(Europe/Amsterdam)
20190724T1600 20190724T1800 Europe/Amsterdam The Impact of Long Terms: Resource Planning and Social Engineering (ca.1850-1950)

This panel addresses the impact of long terms when engineers, architects, government officials, and entrepreneurs planned revenue and resources during an era of industrial expansion, war, and social engineering. While the paper tools of their trade showed single units, complete time series, smooth lines and calendrical grids for action, they dealt with fractured time. The life-spans of employees and investors were ill-aligned with those of companies, and the deep time of resource deposits was out of sync with increasingly global market cycles and technological progress. In these uneasy arrays of conflicting temporalities, scales and units functioned as 'hinge' technologies and were therefore the focus of polemics and struggles for power. This means for historians that scales and units that populate the working tools of professionals can offer entry points into past battles between standardised time and countertempos, hegemonic scales and their alternatives. This panel presents cases where ideas and technologies of duration, sustainability, efficiency, continuity, compression and expansion caused debate in social sciences, philosophy, and engineering. We focus on mental and material protheses that allowed professionals to shrink long time-spans to push their particular agenda in politically fraught situations, and show how temporally remote events were made to have an impact on the present, though not always as planned.

Organized by Sebastian Felten and Anna Echterhölter

Drift 25, Rm. 105 History of Science Society 2019 meeting@hssonline.org

This panel addresses the impact of long terms when engineers, architects, government officials, and entrepreneurs planned revenue and resources during an era of industrial expansion, war, and social engineering. While the paper tools of their trade showed single units, complete time series, smooth lines and calendrical grids for action, they dealt with fractured time. The life-spans of employees and investors were ill-aligned with those of companies, and the deep time of resource deposits was out of sync with increasingly global market cycles and technological progress. In these uneasy arrays of conflicting temporalities, scales and units functioned as 'hinge' technologies and were therefore the focus of polemics and struggles for power. This means for historians that scales and units that populate the working tools of professionals can offer entry points into past battles between standardised time and countertempos, hegemonic scales and their alternatives. This panel presents cases where ideas and technologies of duration, sustainability, efficiency, continuity, compression and expansion caused debate in social sciences, philosophy, and engineering. We focus on mental and material protheses that allowed professionals to shrink long time-spans to push their particular agenda in politically fraught situations, and show how temporally remote events were made to have an impact on the present, though not always as planned.

Organized by Sebastian Felten and Anna Echterhölter

All the Gold in the World: Colonial Extraction, Geology, and Mining Statistics, c.1830-1890View Abstract
Organized Session 04:00 PM - 04:30 PM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/24 14:00:00 UTC - 2019/07/24 14:30:00 UTC
Large-scale exploitation of new gold ore reservoirs in Russia, California, and Australia from the 1830s onwards shifted the relative prices of silver and gold, disturbed monetary systems around world, and fanned interest both in retrospective statistics and prospective geology. This paper uses German philologist Adolph Soetbeer's publication Precious Metal Production and the Value Relation of Gold and Silver from the Discovery of America to the Present (1879) as an entry point into the entangled history of monetary policy, colonial extraction, disciplined geology, and "world" statistics of metal production. Like the early modern government officials and entrepreneurs that he used as his source for data, Soetbeer manipulated scales for visual impact (in illustrations) and for rhetorical persuasion (in discourse). Contrasts between long processes (metallogenesis, colonialism, state-building) and explosive events (discoveries, inventions, wars) structured the past and the future and harnessed long-term processes to force policy decisions in the present.
Presenters Sebastian Felten
University Of Vienna
Reconstructing the Nation: The German Institute for NormsView Abstract
Organized Session 04:30 PM - 05:00 PM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/24 14:30:00 UTC - 2019/07/24 15:00:00 UTC
The German Institute for Norms (later called DIN), founded in 1917, ostensibly aimed to first fuel wartime production and later restart the German economy after the lost war. By prescribing dimensions and shapes for mass produced objects, engineers and architects constructed an entire norm system scaffolding their main ambition: to save time and resources as response to the post-WWI scarcity and mounting economic crisis. This paper will investigate the different temporalities and ideologies embedded in the production of these norm sheets. One was the engineer's projective vision not just of future normed objects, but of an entire nation constructed from (and through) fitting parts. Another the interplay between the idea of the norm system as permanent precisely through timely change of its parts due to anticipated technological advancements. And lastly, the norms were a compression of historical and professional layers, filtered through multiple institutional layers of committees and experts, to eradicate subjective authorship in favour of "neutral" technological advancement. The search for the best measure systems, units and representational techniques, an analysis of the attempt to standardize transparency and frictionless production will be foregrounded by the struggle for territorial control and national expansion through bureaucratic means.
Presenters
AM
Anna-Maria Meister
TU Munich
Redistributing the Resources for Intellectual Work: Ernest Solvay's Energetic Sociology and the Call for Inheritance TaxationView Abstract
Organized Session 05:00 PM - 05:30 PM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/24 15:00:00 UTC - 2019/07/24 15:30:00 UTC
Since the establishment of the laws of thermodynamics, the allocation and efficient use of energy resources has not only been a major topic for the physical labor of man and machine. Around 1900, the efficient use of energetic resources presented an equally important issue for establishing techniques and policies fostering mental and intellectual labor and thus for advancing science and innovation in society. One of the proponents promoting research on the energetic conditions of mental labor was the inventor and entrepreneur Ernest Solvay. Besides his well-known institute of physiology, Solvay also founded the Institut des Sciences Sociales in Brussels in 1894 which was succeeded by the Institut de Sociologie in 1902. Based on empirical research both institutes were meant to develop measures and legislative policies against social inequality. One crucial field of research was the role of progressive inheritance taxation in redistributing the resources of wealth and in this way changing the future opportunities of intellectual work. The paper will relate the small-scale perspective of the physiological research on the energetic conditions of individual mental labor at Solvay's institutes both to his activities in promoting the social sciences as a big-scale perspective on "social energeticism" and to his political advocacy of redistributing the resources for intellectual work on the long term by means of progressive inheritance taxation.
Presenters
MW
Monika Wulz
ETH Zurich
Knowledge of the Unknown: On the “Dark Figure of Crime” in 19th-Century GermanyView Abstract
Organized Session 05:30 PM - 06:00 PM (Europe/Amsterdam) 2019/07/24 15:30:00 UTC - 2019/07/24 16:00:00 UTC
"Dark figure” means estimating and calculating the number of unreported or undiscovered crimes and is therefore a statistic of hidden yet ostensibly real occurrences. The terms names something that mostly evades general knowledge and counting, and often instills angst. “Dark figures” are figures of suspicion and produce a suggestive surplus, especially in relation to crime statistics. Planning to evade crime in the first place had an immediate impact, and this kind of social engineering focussing on long-term perspectives became a crucial technology during the 19th century. The central question is how the “knowledge of the unknown” became a research area of its own, opening up new fields of intervention. To enhance their ability to survey and protect the social body, complex informational networks were established in order to gain knowledge not readily accessible to medical institutions or to the state. The paper investigates counting cards nthat were used in Germany from the early 1870s onwards to gain deeper information about unknown and threatening fields like covert prostitution, potentially dangerous mental illnesses, and crime reality. The epistemological impact of these paper tools will be related to long-term prevention as the cultural technology of the modern age.
Presenters
SL
Sophie Ledebur
Humboldt-University Berlin, Dep. History Of Science
University of Vienna
ETH Zurich
Humboldt-University Berlin, Dep. History of Science
Professor of History of Science, University of Vienna
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