Many groups and individuals today celebrate “innovation.” The notion has influenced not only how we think about the present but also how we interpret the past. It has become a concept of historical analysis in both academic histories and popular ones. A recent example is Walter Isaacson’s book, The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution. When this book was released in 2014, the historian of technology, Andrew Russell, put forward the idea of a counter-volume, titled,The Maintainers: How a Group of Bureaucrats, Standards Engineers, and Introverts Made Technologies That Kind of Work Most of the Time. Since then, various scholars in science and technology studies have entered an on-going conversation about developing a historical research program around the study of maintenance.
There are many reasons to turn to the history of maintenance at this time, and many questions that our workshop will engage. We are not claiming that the study of maintenance is new, especially since we are inspired by formative work of historians, anthropologists, sociologists, labor activists, and many other communities. Rather, we are arguing that this is a propitious moment to turn to this theme.
In this light, we invite proposals for a conference to be held at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, on Friday, April 8, 2016.