MUSTS Colloquium with Ruth Oldenziel: How Users Mattered in the Past and Still Matter

Wednesday, February 8 2017, 15:30-17:00, in the Attic (Grote Gracht 80-82, Maastricht)

How Users Mattered in the Past and Still Matter.
For two decades or so, the analysis of user-based analysis of innovation has become a sine qua non for understanding technological developments. Based on several historical works from household, computer, and mobility innovations (Cold-War Kitchen; Hacking Europe; Cycling Cities; and Consumers, Tinkerers, Rebels), Ruth Oldenziel reflects what we have learned of how users really mattered in the past and how we may understand users in a historically robust fashion. Second, the presentation reflects on historical contigency by offering a trajectory of how users mattered in some historical periods, but less so in others. Third, the presentation focuses on how a user perspective offers a window on how old innovations were maintained or revitalized and how we may understand innovations in terms of disappearance, partial continuity, and resurrection. It argues that in the analysis of how developments come about, historians are able to examine issues of continuity and discontinuity, of developments that endure and those that have been ruptured

Ruth Oldenziel is a professor in the history of technology at the Eindhoven University of Technology, with a special focus on the relationship between Europe and the United States. She holds a PhD in American history from Yale University (1992), held numerous international fellowships and honorary positions, and has published extensively in the fields of American Studies, gender studies and history of technology.