8th Tensions-of-Europe conference

Place
Athen
Host/Organizer
Forschernetzwerk "Tensions of Europe"
Date
07.09.2017 - 10.09.2017
By
Falk Flade, Center for Interdisciplinary Polish Studies, European University Viadrina Frankfurt an der Oder

From 7-10 September 2017, the 8th Tensions-of-Europe conference was held at the National and Kapodistrian University in Athens. Tensions of Europe (TOE) is an open network of scholars interested in the history of technology. This year´s TOE conference was dedicated to the history of the relationship between borders and technology. Around 120 scholars from 23 countries discussed in 26 sessions topics such as the connection between national borders and transnational infrastructures, the relationship between borders and technologically-induced environmental crises and disasters, geopolitics and technology, or the redefinition of borders due to the use of technology (and vice versa).

In advance of the 8th TOE conference, a summer school was organized by the TOE Early Career Scholars´ Group. Twelve young scholars discussed the concept of crisis, which became a keyword not only for the EU and its future. Furthermore, they were informed about the necessary skills for an academic career by the experienced scientists ANDREAS FICKERS (Luxemburg) and MIKAEL HÅRD (Darmstadt).

In his keynote speech, HUUB DIJSTELBLOEM (Amsterdam) opened up a dialogue between the philosophy of technology and science and technology studies (STS). By referring to philosophers such as Martin Heidegger, Peter Sloterdijk and Bruno Latour, he addressed current challenges of managing mobility. Using the example of the Schengen Treaty, he highlighted the internal as well as external effects of borders and related institutions like Frontex, Eurosur, or Eurodac. For Dijstelbloem, the externalization of border controls is in line with the Schengen Treaty, although its initial aim had not been migration management. Concerning border control technologies shaped by the EU, he underlined the decisive meaning of human agency as well as the increasingly ambiguous roles of subjects and objects regarding the often patchy and inhomogeneous infrastructures. The aim of SHAHRAM KHOSRAVI´s (Stockholm) speech about research frontiers was to “tell about the other side of the fence” by presenting a southern view on the issue. According to him, walls are doomed to fall since no border in history has managed to stop poor people from migrating. Instead of stopping movement, they rather restrict human rights. The main beneficiary of an increasing “border fetishism” is the construction or smuggle business. On the other hand, border regimes (check points, visa system) lead to humiliating practices especially for the poor, whereas the wealthy can easily purchase the necessary documents to be mobile. Khosravi also pointed to the relationship between the EU´s wealth and colonialism and illustrated his analysis through personal experiences.

Session 2-C took a closer look on the EU´s border regime infrastructures. MELINA ANTONAKAKI (Munich) and BERND KASPAREK (Munich) presented some outcomes of their ethnographic field work on the island of Chios in 2016. The camps, which were created as a consequence of the hotspot approach of the EU Commission, are meant to register and identify large numbers of migrants in an efficient way. As an answer to the shortcomings of the EU border regime (Dublin crisis), these container villages provide facilities for finger printing, photographing, health checks etc. Because of the hasty implementation of the hotspots, the speakers called them “folded infrastructures” due to their unfinished, short-lived, and hybrid character. SILVAN POLLOZEK (Munich) discussed the activity of EU agents like Frontex at the hotspots on the Greek islands. He paid close attention to the interoperability of EU agents and the Greek police. In order to lower possible tensions between these institutions, Greek liaison officers play an important role to guarantee the smooth information flow between both sides. According to Pollozek, the modularization of infrastructures allows for plugging them into national agencies without fundamentally restricting the host member´s autonomy. MARIANGELA VEIKOU (Twente) held a more critical opinion and saw the EU asylum regime in crisis. In her view, the hotspot approach protects the border and not the people, which stems from the EU´s dilemma to choose between humanity and security. For her, the main danger lies in the rather non-transparent and unchecked operation modes of border agents and infrastructures. VASILIS GALIS (Copenhagen) focused on the immigrants´ use of technology. In contrast to the EU´s application of high technology, immigrants rather rely on low technology such as cell phones. The internet and social media provide them with information about border controls and allow them to stay in close contact with friends and family. Galis called this cyberspace “temporary autonomous zones” leading to a new understanding of infrastructures itself. The session organizer ANNALISA PELIZZA (Twente) summarized the discussion by underlining some outstanding aspects of the session. The presentations revealed the sociotechnical battle between borders and attempts to circumvent them, the heterogeneity of actors and interest, as well as the quick implementation and coercion of member states.

Session 5-B was dedicated to a more traditional topic of the TOE network. It focused on transnational communication infrastructures and their interplay with national and political borders in different historical contexts. JACOB WARD (London) explored the TAT-1 telephone cable and Telstar satellite, which were presented as a projection of American power into Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. However, communication satellites such as the Intelsat system were later presented as unifying nations, transcending borders and, in particular, aligning developing nations with the USA. In his presentation Ward outlined a transition from a Cold War discourse about national borders to an emerging Information Age (neo)liberal discourse about corporate globalization. LEONARD LABORIE (Paris) and CHRISTIAN HENRICH-FRANKE (Siegen) addressed the origins and working of the European Post and Telecommunication Union, formed in 1942 in Vienna. This Union was a remarkable case is it continued and even extended cross-border cooperation in Europe even under war conditions. The speakers argued that next to standardizing and regulating communication across borders, the Union also intended to create a sense of European-ness in the midst of the war. SANNE AAGAARD JENSEN (Copenhagen) explored the border-crossing elements of the European telex-gentex network and NATO´s considerations on border issues and interconnections in potential times of war. Highlighting the agential role of technologies in the production of security policies, Jensen examined the ways in which border issues were articulated and handled with a view to imagined threats and vulnerabilities. ANDREAS MARKLUND (Copenhagen) delved into the problematic relationship between national borders and border-crossing telecommunications in World War II. He focused on censorship of border-crossing communication in Denmark during the Nazi Occupation and provided a content-based analysis of mass surveillance in operational mode.

The two sessions described above indicate the wide range of the 8th TOE conference. Next to themes that fall under the general agenda of the TOE network, this year´s conference also included highly topical sessions about migration. These sessions partly revealed the different viewpoints on the challenges Europe is facing today. Whereas most people in transit countries like Greece are critically looking at the establishment of massive border infrastructures that question fundamental European values, the advantages of such border regimes seem to outweigh the drawbacks from a destination countries´ view.

Due to these tensions, the TOE network tries to establish a new research agenda, which focuses on the relationship between technology and other themes as migration, environment, energy, mobility, or finances. The ambitious aim is to actively participate in the public discourse by offering historically informed arguments. The next TOE conference with a focus on digitalization will be held in Luxemburg in September 2019.

Conference Overview:

Keynote Speech:
Huub Dijstelbloem (Amsterdam)

Research Frontiers:
Shahram Khosravi (Stockholm)

1-A: Technology and the Environment in Eastern Europe: A Long-term Perspective
Chair: Christos Karampatsos (Athens)

Stephen Brain (Starkville): Early Soviet Agriculture and the World Market
Viktor Pál (Helsinki): the Colonization of the Natural Environment in Austria-Hungary Economic, Ethnic and Social Conflicts over Slovakian Forests in the late Nineteenth Century

1-B: “Borders and power”: Nuclear power, electricity, gas and renewable energy technologies in the borders
Chair: Arne Kaijser (Stockholm)

Martin Ivanov (Sofia): NATURA 2000 vs. Renewable Energies – Contested Territories and Nature Protection´s Borders: The Bulgarian Case
Yannis Fotopoulos (Athens): Borderless imaginaries of techno-political infrastructures. Natural Gas in Greece from the early 1970s to the present
Ivaylo Hristov (Plovdiv): Expanding the European borders. EU and Soviet nuclear technology in Bulgaria

1-C: Travelling Technologies
Chair: Eirini Mergoupi-Savaidou (Athens)

Jørgen Burchardt (Copenhagen): From anarchy to international standards. The development of technical and organizational agreements around products through de facto standards and political regulations. Examples from the road freight transport business, 1900-2000
Elitsa Stoilova (Plovdiv): Food Technologies and Technological Transfer
Leda Papastefanaki (Ioannina): Gendered technology crossing borders: The sewing machine in the Mediterranean (mid 19th – mid 20th centuries)

1-D: Border Visions: Experiments and asymmetries
Chair: Nils Zurawski (Hamburg)

Eileen Murphy (Dublin): Slow down, borders ahead: The cultural history of automated borders
Merle Missoweit (Euskirchen): Border control technology, from participatory research to the visualization of societal challenges
Peter Fussey (Colchester): Seeing hidden enemies: surveillance, counterterrorism and border control
Sadhbh McCarthy (Stockholm): Unseen data: Airport attacks and blindness in border technology

2-A: Siting nuclear installations at the border: Transnational political implications and societal responses
Chair: Per Högselius (Stockholm)

Arne Kaijser (Stockholm): “Vad ska väck? Barsebäck!”: The Barsebäck power plant in Swedish energy politics
Jan-Henrik Meyer (Copenhagen): “20 km from Copenhagen market square”: Danish perspectives on the Swedish nuclear power plant Barsebäck
Markku Lehtonen (Brighton): Breeding transnational responses: The Superphénix fast breeder reacter: cross-border collaboration, protest and consequences
Astrid Mignon Kirchhof (Munich): Crossing Permeable Borders at the Gorleben Nuclear Facility

2-B: Bridge over Troubled Waters – Border crossing development of technological systems in the Cold War
Chair: Ana Simões (Lisbon)

Saara Matala (Helsinki): Towards transnational history of the Arctic maritime technology
Mila Oiva (Turku): Trade Crossing Eastern Bloc Borders. An Example of Transnational History of Polish-Soviet Trade
Johan Gärdebo (Stockholm): We have a solution, what is the problem? Why Sweden developed transnational satellite observation as aid to South Asia, 1986-1988

2-C: There to Stay: Articulating the tension between volatility and entrenchment in border regimes infrastructures
Chair: Annalisa Pelizza (Twente)

Annalisa Pelizza (Twente): There to Stay: Articulating the tension between volatility and entrenchment in border regimes infrastructures
Melina Antonakaki (Munich)/Bernd Kasparek (Munich): Europeanisation on whose terms? What remains of the hotspot approach after the Summer of Migration
Mariangela Veikou (Twente): (Post crisis) asylum in Greece. Maneuvering between Crisis and Statelessness
Silvan Pollozek (Munich): Reform&support: Interventions on infrastructures of border and migration management
Vasilis Galis (Copenhagen)/Jane Summerton (Linköping): Digital Routes: Borders, infrastructures and migratory practices in navigating migratory paths in contemporary Europe

3-A: International Broadcasting: Challenges in Comparative Radio Research in Eastern Europe
Chair: Andreas Fickers (Luxemburg)

Dariusz Brzostek (Toruń): Copy (the music) and share (the tape). On the Institutionalization of the bootlegging in the Polish People´s Republic
András Simongáti-Farquhar (Budapest): Battlefield and territorialization in the ether. Strategies of territorial rearrangement and ideological warfare in the electromagnetic domain
Georgi Georgiev (Budapest): Balloons across the Iron Curtain: Reshaping Cold War Borders using Meteorological Imagination
Ruxandra Petrinca (Montreal): “Auch polenta explodiert.” Radio Free Europe and Romanian Political Opposition to Ceausescu’s Regime
Joanna Walewska (Toruń): Listening through the Iron Curtain – RFE and Polish Radio in the “fog of war”

3-B: Transnational governance of risk - Nuclear energy and the collapse of the Iron Curtain 1990-1994
Chair: Ivan Tchalakov (Tomsk)

Karl-Erik Michelsen (Lappeenranta): Introduction to the research platform
Aisulu Harjula (Lappeenranta): Transnational Risk Governance in Nuclear Power: Eastern Europe
Karl-Erik Michelsen (Lappeenranta): Stereotypical views and the perception of risk. The case of VVER-reactors in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union 1991

3-C: Sustainable Urban Mobility
Chair: Aleksandra Bekasova (St. Petersburg)

Martin Emanuel (Uppsala)/Ruth Oldenziel (Eindhoven)/Frank Schipper: History in Sustainable Urban Mobility: An introduction
Patrick Bek (Eindhoven): Transport Poverty, Governance, and Cycling
Henk-Jan Dekker (Eindhoven): Building a nation of cyclists: The governance of Dutch cycling, 1920-1940
Luísa Sousa (Lisbon): Conceptualizing Sustainability and the Urban Question Historically

3-D: Borders and Technologies
Chair: Spyros Tzokas (Athens)

Nina Amelung (Coimbra): Affected for good or evil: Conceptions of “citizenship” and “publics” shaped by crime management technologies
Federica Infantino (Oxford): Outsourcing border control. Politics and Practice of Contracted Visa Policy in Morocco
Lino Camprubí (Berlin): Oceanic Technologies for a New European Border
Dimitrios Ziakkas (Athens): Migration and Border Studies: Search and Rescue missions of Greek Air Force, 1975-2016: Critical episodes and migration crisis

Plenary Session: Tensions of Europe Plenary Session and Workshop: Challenging Prometheus and Clio: A History of Technology for an Age of Grand Challenges

34-A: Technology, natural resources and crises in the past and present of Europe and beyond (I): Knowledge/Resource Circulation_
Chair: Vaso Seirinidou (Athens)

Alexandra Bekasova (St. Petersburg): The International Network of Testing Materials Experts and “The Cement Question”: Negotiating Methods, Instruments and Technical Protocols, 1880-1915
Matthias Heymann (Aarhus): Climatic challenges and water scarcity: International cooperation in the UNESCO Arid Zone Programme
Sławomir Łotysz (Warsaw): Engineering for social order? Ethnical and societal aspects of planned draining of the Polesie Marshes in interwar Poland

4-B: Stations, Labs and Satellites: Real and Imagined Infrastructures in Outer Space
Chair: Erik von der Vleuten (Eindhoven)

Alexander Geppert (New York): Astropoleis: Space Stations and Europe’s Scenarios through the 1970s
Tilmann Siebeneichner (Potsdam): Thinking Trans-Globally: Spacelab and Europe’s Future on Outer Space, 1973-1987

4-C: Science diplomacy: Some methodological aspects (round table)
Chairs: Leonard Laborie (Paris)/Maria Rentetzi (Athens)

Participants: Nina Wormbs (Stockholm), Anna Åberg (Göteborg), Katerina Vlantoni (Athens), Matthew Adamson (Budapest)

5-A: Technology, natural resources and crises in the past and present of Europe and beyond (II): Colonizing Resources
Chair: Nina Wormbs (Stockholm)

Karl Bruno (Stockholm): Who’s Business? Swedish Foreign Policy and Commercial Natural Resource Interests in Liberia, 1955-80
Per Högselius (Stockholm): Small countries and European resource colonialism during the short 20th century
Ihediwa Chimee (Nsukka): The transformative power of European technology in resource exploitation and use: Reflections on the oil presses and rail lines of colonial Nigeria
Roberto Cantoni (Paris): Not the green grabbing you would expect. The case of Morocco´s Noor solar plant

5-B: Communication across borders: Visions, threats and political conflict around transnational communication infrastructures in twentieth century European history
Chair: Falk Flade (Frankfurt/Oder)

Jacob Ward (London): the Single World System: Submarine Cables and Satellites form the Cold War to the Information age
Christian Henrich-Franke (Siegen)/Leonard Laborie (Paris): Communication without Borders? Transnational Cooperation between European PTTs during WWII
Sanne Aagaard Jensen (Copenhagen): Borders in peace, borders in war: The telex-gentex networks of Cold War Europe
Andreas Marklund (Copenhagen): Trawling the Wires: Mass Surveillance of Transnational Telephony in Denmark around WWII

5-C: Technology, Colonialism, Post-Colonialism
Chair: Serkan Karas (Athens); Hugo Pereira (Lisbon): Tensions in the border II: New insights on transnational railways – the Portuguese colonial case (1870s-1900s)

Luísa Sousa (Lisbon): Modernizing Angola and Mozambique during the colonial wars: Discourses, practices and road engineering at the service of the war effort
Ute Hasenöhrl (Innsbruck): Rural electrification in the British Empire
John Laurence Busch: Liberté et Mobilité pour Humanité: the Breakdown of Borders Using the First High Technology

5-D: Technologies, Borders, Ideologies
Chair: Vasilis Galis (Copenhagen)

Matthew O´Neill (Belfast): The Irish Border: Its Symbolic Past and Technological Future
Helena Machado et al. (Coimbra): Criminalization across borders: Geopolitical tensions, and categories of otherness and suspicion
Jaume Sastre-Juan et al. (Lisbon): Razor Wire in Fortress Europe: Technology, Pain and the Control of Space
Olga Lafazani (Barcelona): The refugee camp as a technology of control in time and space: Experiences from Greece

6-A: Technology, natural resources and crises in the past and present of Europe and beyond (III): Management of Natural Resource
Chair: Vaso Angelopoulou (Athens)

Margarita Dadykina (St. Petersburg): The 18th century whaling companies and the imagination of natural resources of the European Arctic
Timo Myllyntaus (Turku): From wooded wilderness to the brink of an ecological crisis: The Finnish debate on forestry and the rational use of timber in the 18th and 19th century
Julia Lajus (Moscow): First World War food crisis, inventory of fish resources and discussions on new fishing technologies in Russia
Jiří Janáč (Prague): The Complex Water Management and Soil Improvement Scheme for Southern Moravia

6-B: Infrastructural technologies in peripheral European context
Chair: Leonard Laborie (Paris)

Aliki Vaxevanoglou (Athens): The Social Reception of Electrical Technology in Interwar Greece
Duygu Cin (Istanbul): Transnational Circulation of Knowledge and Skills around the Ottoman Electrification (1910-1914)
Alexia Papazafeiropoulou (Athens): Gazing at the West. The transnational orientations of Balkan mobility infrastructure during 1950-1960
Maria Mavroidi (Athens): The Greek machine-making sector: An untold story of technology transfer and integration
Julia Erol (Heidelberg): Beyond Borders. The significance of Norwegian hydroelectricity

6-C: Sites of Capital: Science, Technology and Medicine in Lisbon
Chair: Luísa Sousa (Lisbon)

Marta Macedo (Lisbon): Capital streets: Science, credit, and crisis in Lisbon, 1837-1892
Ana Simões (Lisbon)/Maria Diogo (Lisbon): Working-class neighborhoods in Lisbon: circulation of workers and capital in building a techno-scientific metropolis
José Nunes (Coimbra): Dirty money, dirty hands: Circulating and containing diseases in Lisbon (1850-1940)
João Machado (Lisbon): New Ghosts of Scientific Lisbon: Visualizing strategies for the humanities

6-D: Borders and Migrations
Chair: Dagmara Jajeśniak-Quast (Frankfurt/Oder)

Iossif Konstantinou (Athens): Media, Technologies and Migration: Connecting Syrian families in Greece
Naoki Kambe (Tokyo): Perspective by Incongruity in Juxtaposed Photographs: Memories of Idomeni Refugee Camp
Sławomir Kamosiński (Bydgoszcz): Why don´t economic migrants from Ukraine take up jobs in their professions? Research on qualifications and employment of persons crossing borders for commercial purposes;
Plenary Session: Dina Vaiou (Athens): Gendered technologies of everyday survival in the city: Experiences from Athens

7-A: Technology, natural resources and crises in the past and present of Europe and beyond (IV): Crisis and Resource Management
Chair: Anna Åberg (Göteborg)

Hanna Vikström (Stockholm): Is there a Supply Crisis? Swedish Strategic metals, 1917-2015
Frank Veraart (Eindhoven): Gravel and space, from a vital resource to the offshoring of an abundant material: Gravel excavations policies in the Netherlands, 1945-2015
Ole Sparenberg (Saarbrücken): Technology, natural resources and crises in the past and present of Europe and beyond

7-B: Technologies Control, Hazards, Risks
Chair: Stathis Arapostathis (Athens)

Anna Svensson (Stockholm): Walls: Control, protection and survival in an early modern botanic garden
Iraklis Katsaloulis (Athens): Mitigating Natural Hazards: The Case of Earthquake Prediction in Contemporary Greece
Christos Karabatsos (Athens): Machinery Dysfunction as a Bridge between Labor History and the History of Technology: The case of the Greek Cigarette Rollers, 1880-1920

7-C: (Bio)Medicalization and technologies
Chair: Alexia Papazafeiropoulou (Athens)

Stevienna de Saille (Sheffield): Banning embryonic migration: European-level regulation of human reproductive cloning, and the implications for heritable genetic modification using CRISPR-Cas9
Mattia della Rocca (Pisa): Brain, technology and the Human Brain Project: How “big brain science” is reshaping the borders of brain research
Magdalena Zdrodowska (Cracow): Technology as an identity border within deaf communities
Constantinos Morfakis (Athens)/Katerina Vlantoni (Athens): Hybrid configurations of umbilical cold blood banking in Greece

7-D: Infrastructuring borders
Chair: Peter Ulrich (Frankfurt/Oder)

Domink Gerst (Frankfurt/Oder): Infrastructuring borders
Martin Klatt (University of Southern Denmark): Spaces of Place or Spaces of Flows? The resilience of territorial border infrastructure in a globalized world, examples from Europe and North America
Holger Pötzsch (Tromsø): Managing Migration: On iBorder and Technological Zones/Work
Kartin Sowa (Cologne): Officers, Passports and Machines: Immigration Law Enforcement at a Border Post. Perspectives from the Global South.

Citation
Tagungsbericht: 8th Tensions-of-Europe conference, 07.09.2017 – 10.09.2017 Athen, in: H-Soz-Kult, 30.09.2017, <www.hsozkult.de/conferencereport/id/tagungsberichte-7339>.
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30.09.2017
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