Social Technologies and Global Knowledge Economies, 1750-1850


4th to 6th April 2019, Lichtenberg-Kolleg, Göttingen


Dominik Hünniger (Lichtenberg-Kolleg)
Rachel Koroloff (Lichtenberg-Kolleg)
Joanna Wharton (Lichtenberg-Kolleg)


The remarkable density of connections that characterized knowledge production between 1750 and 1850 has long figured in definitions of the “rise of modernity.” The commerce of ideas through correspondence networks and print as well as manuscript circulation in salons, learned societies and other institutions, has been celebrated as foundational to modernity’s more conspicuous highlights, from the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment to the political articulation of universal human rights. Indeed, the circulation of ‘useful knowledge’ – or, in today’s phraseology, the knowledge economy – remains integral to the modern concept of progress, formulated and adopted during the brief period between 1750 and 1850.
This interdisciplinary workshop, organized by Lichtenberg-Kolleg, the Göttingen Institute for Advanced Study, will focus on interrogating these narratives of modernity in the context of the emergence of an array of ‘social technologies’ that enhanced networks of knowledge production and circulation at the turn of the nineteenth century. From communication, transmission, and circulation, to innovations that enabled, impinged upon, or otherwise shaped social relations, we welcome papers on all aspects of socio-technological change and their relation to the development of global economies of knowledge production and circulation from 1750 to 1850.
Topics of interest include (but are not restricted to) the role of media (including paper, ink), technologies (including manuscript, print, electric impulses), and practices (including translation and taxonomy) in knowledge production; the role of collaboration and infrastructure in the circulation of knowledge; the changing roles of institutions (including schools, hospitals, prisons, universities, libraries, collections and gardens) in the wider knowledge economy; social environments and their relation to bodily technologies; and the development of revolutionary technology and radical media in this period.
We invite proposals for 20-minute presentations in English. To apply please email a title and abstract (no more than 300 words) along with a one-page CV in either MS Word or PDF format to the conference organizers ( Please include “Social Technologies” in the subject line. Applications are due 15 November 2018. Applicants will be notified by 15 December 2018. Accommodation and travel will be provided to all confirmed participants. Please contact the conference organizer with any questions.

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Deadline for paper submission