Workshop: Interdisciplinary and historical perspectives on technology

Online (Zoom), Monday 19 April 2021 (University of Helsinki, Finnish Society for the History of Technology)

The workshop is open for all interested. The registration is closed (zoom-links sent), please contact Matti La Mela for joining the workshop,

Workshop programme:

10.00-11.00 (Finnish time, EEST) Session 1: Invited speakers
Chair: Matti La Mela (Uppsala University)

-Julia Lajus (HSE University, St Petersburg): Co-construction of natural resources and technologies in Russian/Soviet history
-Alessandro Nuvolari (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa): Technical change as an evolutionary process: some perspectives from the economic history of industrialization

11.15-12.45 Session 2: Technology, infrastructure, and heritage
Chair: Saara Matala (Chalmers University of Technology)

-Commentator, Tiina Männistö-Funk (ETH Zürich): Questions of equality and justice in the history of urban planning and infrastructure
-Tuomas Pakarinen (University of Jyväskylä): A ‘compass and a map’ for making sense of technology in the past
-Tiina Äikäs (University of Oulu): Smokestack Memories: a project on factory smokestacks as heritage
-Sampsa Kaataja (PhD): MATINE-project: Finnish Universities in service of national defence since the 1960´s

13.30-15.00 Session 3: Digitalisation and technological development
Chair: Matti La Mela (Uppsala University)

-Commentator, Mats Fridlund (University of Gothenburg): Digital history as history of technology
-Katriina Heljakka (University of Turku): Mobilization of play through emergent technologies-A (recent) historical approach
-Jussi Heikkilä (University of Jyväskylä): Standardized general purpose technologies: A note
-Luka Nikolić (Charles University Prague): The Three Faces of Technological Disruption

15.15-16.45 Session 4: Innovation and markets for technology
Chair: Olli Turunen (University of Helsinki)

-Commentator, David Andersson (Uppsala University): The Swedish patent database, 1746-1975
-Kaisa Kyläkoski (University of Jyväskylä): Itinerant sellers of technology in the 18th century Sweden
-Matti La Mela (Uppsala University): The Finnish patent database 1842-1940
-Lauri Heinonen (University of Helsinki): Professionalisation of innovation in Finland in 1890-1940

Contact person: Matti La Mela,


This one-day online workshop has presentations by scholars working in different fields of history and dealing with technology or aspects of technology in their work. The workshop is part of the Baltic Connections conference organised by the University of Helsinki. The workshop encourages in particular graduate students and early career scholars to present their work.

The aim of the workshop is to stimulate interdisciplinary discussion about the role and the relevance of technology in different historical research approaches. Technology is an important element in the development of past societies and the everyday lives of past people. Accordingly, technology has been integrated into historical analysis in various useful and fruitful ways, for instance, by seeing technology/ies as neutral and marketable assets, as complex systems of national pride, or as value-laden elements affecting human relations. Are the various approaches complimentary or should they, rather, be interpreted as divergent or clashing? Through presentations on different historical research cases, the workshop delves into the different roles technology has in historical analysis and offers interdisciplinary insights for our work and perspectives on technology: What role should technology have in historical analysis? How can interdisciplinary perspectives contribute to our research about technology?

The workshop proposal submissions were due on 16 March 2021.

The workshop is organised jointly by the Baltic Connections conference and the Finnish Society for the History of Technology and its Quarterly for History of Technology, Tekniikan Waiheita. The Finnish Society for the History of Technology has received funding from the Finnish Association of Science Publishers (Suomen Tiedekustantajien Liitto, Kopiosto) for sponsoring the Conference. We also acknowledge support from ReNEW (Reimagining Norden in an Evolving World), a research hub established to enhance cooperation to develop new and path-breaking excellence in research about the Nordic region within a challenging global context.

For more information about the workshop, please contact Matti La Mela (Uppsala University),