Ruth Oldenziel, born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1958. Ph.D. from Yale University, New Haven. Professor of American-European History at the Eindhoven University of Technology.
Fellow (1 September 2010 – 30 June 2011)
EUROPEAN TECHNOLOGICAL DRAMAS IN THE AMERICAN CENTURY: HISTORIES OF CONSUMPTION AND USE
I will co-author a book entitled “European Technological Dramas in the American Century: Histories of Consumption and Use” as part of a series authored by the NIAS Theme Group “Inventing Europe: A Transnational History of European Integration, 1850-2000”. The book will investigate how European citizens have integrated material artifacts into their lives over the last 150 years. Picking up Bryan Pfaffenberger’s notion of “technological drama”, it will argue that this was mostly a dramatic process. What from hindsight might look as a smooth affair was often ridden with tension and conflict. Using a History-of-Technology and a Sciences and Technology Studies perspective, the book will firstly reassess the history of European consumption from a user’s perspective. Secondly, it will take up the challenge posed by Victoria De Grazia (Irresistible Empire, 2005) by focusing on how European actors appropriated American products and modified American notions of consumption. Lastly, it will investigate how consumer communities were co-opted by the state and corporate finance into peculiar European “consumer regimes” in the post-war period. The proposed book will systematically investigate domestication processes, mediation practices, sites of resistance, and contestation of key innovations in the period 1850-2000.