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Annual Meeting Society for the History of Technology
New Orleans, 18-21 November, 2021

Call for Proposals



Dear Colleagues,

The SHOT Program Committee is pleased to issue the Call for Papers and Sessions for the SHOT 2021 Annual Meeting to be held 18-21 November 2021, in New Orleans. This will be a joint meeting with the History of Science Society . The current plan is for the conference to be held in-person in New Orleans, but with support for a limited number of Hybrid Sessions (live, online streaming) and an option for Remote Presentations in light of COVID-19 as well as SHOT’s effort to expand access and promote further internationalization (see details below).

We are preserving the theme of the 2020 SHOT Annual Meeting, “Environment, Infrastructure, and Social Justice” with particular attention to the role of race and anti-Black racism in history. The Committee also invites paper and session proposals on any topic in a broadly defined history of technology, including topics that push the boundaries of the field.

SHOT is an interdisciplinary and international community of scholars. We meet to share research on the historical interaction of technology and culture across time and across the globe.  We define “technology” to include both the very new—machine learning and social media—and the very old—irrigation systems and temple architectures.  Our definition of technologist includes not just engineers, but also consumers, maintainers, and makers. We welcome scholarship that examines the role of race, class, gender, disability, and other forms of identity and difference in shaping both technology and social relationships.

SHOT is committed to diversity. In addition to intellectual quality, we warmly welcome session proposals that reflect diversity in their line-up of speakers, in particular with regard to career level, gender, ethnicity, race, and geography. The Program Committee will prioritize proposals that make a conscious effort to increase diversity, both of topics and of presenters. Therefore, SHOT seeks proposals that are diverse in terms of temporal or geographic foci, proposals that include one or more women and/or underrepresented minorities (especially BIPOC), and proposals that include speakers at different professional stages, with different institutional affiliations and/or different nationalities and geographies.

SHOT and its Program Committee look forward to a vigorous, enthusiastic, and intellectually stimulating annual meeting in New Orleans!

SHOT Program Committee – Joseph November (Chair), Atsushi Akera, and Yulia Frumer

SHOT 2021 Annual Meeting in New Orleans

New Orleans. The name alone conjures a host of images: multicultural food, magnificent architecture, distinct music and dialects, and devastating hurricanes. For some, New Orleans is the most European of U.S. cities. For others, it is the northernmost Caribbean port. In the complex and often tragic history of race relations in the United States, the city holds a distinctive place: location of the largest slave market of pre-Civil War America; birthplace of jazz; and, most recently, exemplar for the human costs of environmental inequality and racialized vulnerability to disaster.

Nicknamed the Crescent City because of its unique geography—the Mississippi River curves deeply around its urbanized core—New Orleans has long been a vital commercial center for both domestic and global trade. A long history of infrastructural interventions needed to manage the river for human use is evident throughout the city, making it a particularly compelling destination for historians of technology. Today, nearly half of New Orleans exists below sea level. Indeed, the channelization of the Mississippi River, coupled with the vast pumping system constructed to drain storm water from the interior bowl created by the levees, has deprived the landscape of the sediment that a naturally overflowing river provides. The result is an actively sinking city, despite the injection of billions in federal post-Hurricane Katrina recovery aid. The benefits of this infusion of aid have, moreover, been unevenly distributed. New Orleans remains one of the most impoverished metropolitan regions in the United States.

To assert that New Orleans has a troubled, dichotomous history is to state the obvious. And yet the city persists, a fabled, hemispheric crossroads with an unmatched joie de vivre. That SHOT and the History of Science Society (HSS) in New Orleans have chosen to jointly host their meetings New Orleans in 2021 (2020 was the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the 10th anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill) is no small matter. This co-mingling of associations offers scholars a splendid opportunity to reflect on the relationship between the environment, infrastructure, and social justice at the juncture of science and technology, and how all of these elements contribute to the ongoing story of New Orleans and to the maintenance of our modern world. To pay tribute to the location of the meeting, we encourage proposals that relate to a broadly interpreted theme of “Environment, Infrastructure, and Social Justice.”

Conference Theme: Environment, Infrastructure, and Social Justice

Infrastructure is an inherently social mode for the modification of natural environments. It is the most basic form of sociotechnical collaboration; it is fundamental to society’s functions; and it is indispensable for other technological developments. Infrastructure requires vision, planning, engineering, management, and maintenance. It also necessitates considerations of risk and an anticipation of environmental events with potential to seriously impact human lives and nonhuman landscapes. Colloquially described as “natural disasters,” these events become “disasters” only when infrastructure fails.

At the same time, infrastructure is also a symbol of nationhood and civilization. It is often cited as a justification for conflict, imperialism, and displacement. The benefits that it offers and harm that it causes are not distributed equally. Those who are displaced or otherwise affected by new infrastructure projects too often do not experience their benefits. And when infrastructure fails, the harm often falls disproportionately on those who are already socially and economically disadvantaged.

We invite SHOT participants to reflect on these themes from a historical as well as a contemporary perspective, and with respect to a variety of socio-cultural environments. Among the aspects which deserve discussion are how infrastructure modifies human and natural environments; how risk assessment influences infrastructure planning; how different societies approach infrastructure vis-à-vis other forms of technological development; and how climate change brings about reassessments of infrastructural needs.

Session Proposals & Abstract Submission

An important note for all applicants (including resubmittals of accepted session proposals in 2020): If health/safety conditions force the cancellation of the 2021 meeting, SHOT has committed to holding the meeting entirely in virtual format. Your commitment to presenting in New Orleans in 2021 should also be viewed as a commitment to present that same material at a virtual version of the conference, in the event that the 2021 physical meeting is cancelled. If the conference moves online, session lengths will be shortened from 90 to 60 minutes.


Note for applicants who have been invited to participate in sessions sponsored by the SHOT Internationalization Committee: Please be sure to indicate on the application form that your session has been sponsored by the SHOT Internationalization Committee.

For the 2021 meeting the Program Committee welcomes proposals of these types

Joint SHOT/HSS sessions: Since this meeting will be held in conjunction with HSS, it is possible to submit a proposal that speaks to both SHOT and HSS communities, and which would appear on both programs. When submitting a joint proposal, indicate this fact in the abstract and make sure to submit an identical proposal through the HSS website. The Program Committees of both societies will evaluate these joint proposals. (The proposal may meet the formatting requirements of either society.) SHOT and HSS plan to stream at least some of the joint sessions. Please indicate whether your panel is interested in being a hybrid session.

Traditional sessions: Sessions of 3 or 4 papers, with a chair listed in the session proposal. It is not necessary to have a commentator. However, if a commentator has a central role in the session, they will be counted as an additional speaker. Extended Deadline: April 25, 2021

Unconventional sessions: Sessions with formats that diverge in useful ways from traditional sessions. These can include (but are not limited to) roundtables, discussion panels, workshop-style sessions with pre-circulated papers, “you write, I present” sessions, and poster sessions. Poster proposals should describe the content and the visual material to be used in the poster. Individuals whose posters are accepted must be available to talk about them in a lunch/evening slot to be decided by the Program Committee. The Program Committee encourages other creative formats to facilitate communication, dialogue, and audience involvement. The Program Committee will look favorably on formats that make sessions less hierarchical and reduce the ‘distance’ between audience and author, and between author and commentator. Extended Deadline: April 25, 2021.

Open sessions: Individuals interested in finding others to join an organized session may propose Open Sessions, starting March 15, with a final deadline of April 7. Open Session descriptions, along with the organizer’s contact information, will appear on the SHOT website. (The earlier the proposal is sent to SHOT, the earlier it can be posted to the website.) For individuals who want to join a proposed session from the Open Sessions list, please contact the organizer for that session, not the Program Committee. In order to give the session organizer sufficient time to select proposals and assemble a final list of presenters, the deadline for submitting your paper proposal to the organizer is April 7, 2021. Open Session organizers will then assemble completed sessions and submit them through SHOT’s online system by the extended deadline of April 25, 2021.

Individual papers: Proposals for individual papers will be considered, but the Program Committee will give preference to pre-organized sessions (traditional, unconventional, or completed open sessions). Scholars who might ordinarily propose an individual paper are encouraged to propose Open Sessions themselves or to join an Open Session already listed. Extended Deadline: April 25, 2021.

General Guidelines for Submission

Presentation Options & Remote Access during SHOT 2021 NOLA

We first note once again that the SHOT physical meeting in New Orleans will be switched entirely to a virtual format if health conditions are deemed to be unsafe.

An Experiment with Hybrid (Live-Streaming) Sessions

SHOT is thinking boldly about how to structure our 2021 meeting to address possible concerns about travel during COVID-19. The Society is also committed to facilitating access and inclusion, reducing the environmental impact of meetings, and supporting the ongoing internationalization of our field. Accordingly, we will be conducting an experiment this year by offering three parallel hybrid (live-streaming) sessions available for remote access. We highlight the following, and hope to assess our society and its membership’s interest and willingness to lead the way in making our conferences accessible to people around the globe at a fraction of the cost of attending an in-person meeting. We see this as a process every society needs to experiment with, as climate change and other issues come to the fore. For the 2021 SHOT Annual Conference, the Program Committee hopes to offer the following:

Those participating in a hybrid (live-streaming) session, including the audience, will be able to contribute to the Q&A period. All individuals with an assigned role in a hybrid session (presenters, chairs, and commentator) will need to register for the conference at the usual registration rates (lower for graduate students, etc.).

Remote Presentation Options

Under conditions where the conference does meet in New Orleans, we understand that some potential presenters may remain concerned about COVID-19 exposure; they may also wish to, or need to participate remotely for other reasons. Accordingly, in addition to the opportunity to present remotely if selected for a hybrid (live-streaming) session, presenters may give their papers as a pre-recorded presentation in any session. Those doing so must commit to pre-recording their presentation and sending that file to their session organizer and chair by a deadline before the meeting starts. A session organizer or chair, in a session where at least one paper will be delivered remotely, will need to commit to handling the actual screening of this presentation in their session. Sessions for which all presenters plan to deliver their papers remotely must include a session organizer or chair who will be in-person; if you do not have such an individual, please indicate this on your proposal and if your organized session is accepted, the Program Committee will work to identify an individual who will be there in person to convene the session.)  Remote presenters are also welcome to make arrangements with the session organizer or chair for them to join their session’s Q&A period by phone.  Remote presenters will need to register for the conference at the usual registration rates (lower for graduate students, etc.).

Indicating Your Presentation Preferences

In submitting a session proposal or individual abstract, organizers and authors should indicate:

  1. Whether they wish to have their paper/sessions considered for a hybrid (live-streaming) session.
  2. Whether they intend to participate in person; as a remote presenter only if assigned to a hybrid session; or as a remote presenter regardless of session assignment.
  3. Or if an organized session, which presenters requests each of these presentation formats. (NOTE: Sessions for which all presenters plan to deliver their papers remotely must include a session organizer or chair who will be in-person; if you do not have such an individual, please indicate this on your proposal and if your session is accepted, the Program Committee will work to identify an individual who will be there in person to convene the session.)

Guidelines for Resubmissions from 2020

We regret that the 2020 SHOT Annual Meeting could not take place in person as was planned. If your paper or session or roundtable was accepted in spring 2020 for the original fall 2020 meeting and was not part of the Virtual Forum held in October 2020, then you have the following options.

How to Resubmit Organized Sessions and Roundtables

All organized sessions as published in our 2020 NOLA Program (https://www.historyoftechnology.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Program-website-version-24-june-2020.pdf) will be given three options to present in 2021.

Option S1: Roll over your unchanged session proposal

As a session or roundtable organizer, please contact your fellow presenters and ask them whether they wish to make changes to the abstracts of their presentations or to the overall session proposal. If you all agree to present your work as published in the 2020 program, you may re-submit your unchanged session proposal. In this case, you will be given priority for a slot if we are able to meet in person. (Participants in re-submitted sessions may choose to present their paper remotely, and the session may request to be considered for a hybrid live-streamed format – please see above for details.) Resubmitting a panel proposal does not guarantee acceptance, but does give it priority.

Option S2: Re-submit your proposal with changes

As research develops, plans and availability change, and new connections or urgencies emerge, so option 1 may not seem applicable to your session or roundtable. For example, you may wish to keep the title and abstract of your proposal the same, but one or two speakers have withdrawn and been replaced with new speakers. If your proposal differs in these ways from the version accepted to the 2020 program, please re-submit your session proposal and indicate that a similar proposal was accepted to the 2020 meeting. Resubmitting a panel proposal does not guarantee acceptance, but does give it priority.

Option S3: Submit a new session proposal

Our call for papers will also invite new proposals. Should your ideas or plans for a session change considerably to what you have submitted in 2020 (as published in our 2020 program), please submit a new proposal.

Attention: If you re-submit a joint SHOT-HSS session or roundtable proposal, please also consult HSS’s guidelines, as you will have to re-submit your proposal to both societies.

How to Resubmit Your Contributed Paper

Option P1: Re-submit your paper as part of the session we have created for the 2020 program

Creating sessions from contributed papers is the most time-consuming task for program co-chairs when they compose the meeting program. Whether or not your paper is accepted depends on quality but also on whether it fits into a set of four contributions in meaningful ways. The original 2020 program was constructed to highlight interesting conjunctions between individual authors. For this reason, we kindly ask you to consult the published 2020 program to review how your paper was originally assigned to a session. If you like the way you were grouped together, please contact the other contributors in your session and see if you would like to re-submit this session as an organized session proposal. In order to do so, you will need to provide an abstract with an overall framework and name a session chair. For the 2021 meeting, we will give high priority to sessions re-submitted in this way. (You may choose to present your paper remotely, and the session may request to be considered for a hybrid live-streamed format – please see above for details.)

Option P2: Find collaborators to form a new organized session

If Option P1 does not work for you, we encourage you to reach out to other colleagues to form a new organized session. This will enable you to deepen your networks and to collectively build a conceptual framework in which to present your work with others. Pre-organized sessions usually draw a bigger and more responsive audience than contributed papers sessions that lack such a common thematically-deep framework.

If you decide to re-submit your paper as part of a new organized session, your proposal will be considered as a new organized session proposal. We cannot guarantee that your session will be accepted in the 2021 program, but please note that generally, the acceptance rate of organized sessions is much higher than that of stand-alone papers.

Option P3: Re-submit your paper as a stand-alone contribution

You may of course also re-submit your paper as a stand-alone contribution. In this case, you will have to re-apply just like anyone else who will submit a new paper proposal. Because the program co-chairs for the 2021 meeting will have to figure out how your paper fits with others to make an engaging session, we cannot consider your re-submitted contribution with priority even if your paper had been accepted in 2020.  (You may choose to apply and indicate that you plan to present your paper remotely – please see above for details.)

SHOT and its Program Committee look forward to a vigorous, enthusiastic, and intellectually stimulating annual meeting in New Orleans!