Research at the subject area history of technology

Past and Present TechnoWorlds

The research activities within the history of technology subject area of at TUM focus on processes of humankind’s move from the biotope to the technotope. We explore how knowledge and technology was produced, transferred and appropriated under specific historical circumstances and we scrutinize the epistemic, economic, social, cultural and political conditions of this development.

Our approaches are informed by a broad concept of knowledge and technology encompassing knowledge resources, practices, artefacts and biofacts. The ongoing and envisioned research projects in the subject area strive to come to a comprehensive understanding of knowledge and technology by pursuing a wide range of topics. The aim is to explore processes of mechanization from a reflexive perspective and in a dialogue with the natural and the technical sciences in order to provide orientational knowledge for society.

Current Research Projects

Evidence practices for technical safety

The project aims to analyze practices of evidence concerning technical safety in both German states between the 1950s and the 1980s, using two specific technological fields – automobiles and nuclear power – as case studies. As key technologies of the atomic and the consumer age, both fields have had a substantial part in transforming the idea of safety/security into a societal core value. Making use of the chiasmus “practicing evidence – evidencing practice”, we study discourses as well as concrete practices of technical safety as an increasingly important precondition for the societal acceptance of technology.

A Silent Revolution. Infrastructuring Singapore as a Logistics City, 1850-1940

Investigator: Felix Mauch

Port facilities, stockyards, loading docks, railroad tracks, power grids – functional infrastructures form basic units of both modern cities and logistics. In this relationship, logistics is a conditioning force. Giving birth to a technologically altered and economically optimized configuration of space and time, the art of choreographing intermodal supply chains operates as a relay integrating infrastructural networks into the production of the urban realm itself while constantly (re)shaping their material forms, politics, and even poetics. Therefore, although commonly associated with circulation and seamless flows of movement, logistics does not only pass through the city. It also consumes environments.

Against this backdrop, my project examines how Singapore was planned, managed, and worked as a logistics city. I will base my analysis on in-depth empirical research, showing how logistical knowledge and practices converted established geographies of transport and mundane technologies of storage into a tool for “infrastructuring” Singapore’s urban development in the long 19th century.

Completed Projects