Annual Meetings

The Forum for History of Human Science usually sponsors one or more sessions at the annual meeting of the History of Science Society, where it also holds the annual business meeting, electing officers and announcing the FHHS prizes. The FHHS Newsletter records these activities and offers other information of interest to our members.

The next meeting will take place in Utrecht, The Netherlands, July 23-27, 2019. The FHHS Distinguished Lecturer in 2019 will be Nelly Oudshoorn, Emeritus Professor, University of Twente (Netherlands). Her talk, “Technologies Inside Bodies: Rethinking Human-Machine Relations,” will take place on July 25, 2019 at 12:00 pm.

Abstract: In the past decades we have seen the introduction of more and more technologies that operate under the surface of the body, including artificial hips, knees and hearts, pacemakers, breast and cochlear implants, prosthetic arms and legs, spinal cord stimulators, and emerging human enhancement technologies. Understanding the agency, vulnerability and resilience of people living with technologies inside their bodies s therefore an urgent question. Technologies inside bodies challenge a longstanding tradition of theorizing human-technology relations in STS and philosophy of technology. For a long time, most theories on human agency, including the work of Latour and Ihde, only addressed technologies external to the body. These theoretical approaches conceptualize the interactions between humans and technologies merely as finite and limited, temporal events and focus on devices that are more or less under the control of humans. Technologies implanted in bodies challenge these approaches to human-technology relations in two different ways. First, these devices are designed in such a way that they delegate no agency to its ‘users’, in terms of how they are supposed to interact with these technologies. Second, implants involve continuous interactions between human bodies and technologies that may last a whole life time. Understanding the agency, vulnerability and resilience of people living with technologies implanted in their bodies also challenges social studies of cyborgs because this scholarship silences the lived experiences and voices of people living with implants and neglects the materiality of hybrid bodies. In my lecture, I will discuss recent feminist studies on the intimate relationships between bodies and technologies that argue that it is important to re-materialize the cyborg. Based on my current research on pacemakers and implantable defibrillators I suggest that medical implants may best be considered as body-companion technologies. This metaphor invites us to approach technologies implanted in bodies as devices that act as life-long companions that are inextricably intertwined with all aspects of life, including the process of dying.  Approaching technologies inside bodies as body- companion technologies draws the attention to the multiplicity of human-technology relations co-constituted by gender, age, and the geo-political landscape.

Biography: Nelly Oudshoorn is Professor Emerita of Technology Dynamics and Health Care at the University of Twente. Her research interests and publications include the co-construction of technologies and users, with a particular focus on medical technologies. She is the author/co-editor of three award-winning books, including The Male Pill. A Biography of a Technology in the Making ( Duke University Press 2003, awarded with the Rachel Carson Prize 2005 by the Society for Social Studies of Science in 2005; Telecare Technologies and the Transformation of Healthcare (Palgrave Macmillan 2011, winner of the Book Prize 2012 of Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness of the British Sociological Association); and The New Production of Users: Changing Involvement Strategies and Innovation Collectives, co-edited with Hyysalo and Elgaard Jensen (Routledge 2016, awarded with the Freeman Prize of the European Association for the study of science and technology in 2016). In addition, she is the author of Beyond the Natural Body. An Archeology of Sex Hormones (Routledge 1994) and co-editor of Bodies of Technology. Women’s Involvement with Reproductive Medicine ( Ohio State University Press 2000, together with Saetnan and Kirejczyk) and How Users Matter. The Co-construction of Users and Technology (MIT Press, 2003), together with Pinch.


Annual Distinguished Lecturer in the Human Sciences

Saturday, November 3, 2018, Seattle, WA

Alison Wylie (Professor and Canada Research Chair, Department of Philosophy, University of British Columbia)
“Histories of Science in and for Practice: Turning Points in Archaeology”

Saturday, November 11, 2017, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Michelle Murphy (Professor of History and Women and Gender Studies, University of Toronto)
“Infrastructures of Not-Counting”

Saturday, November 5, 2016, Atlanta, GA

Robert J. Richards (Fishbein Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Science and Medicine, University of Chicago)
““The Role of Biography in Intellectual History”

Saturday, November 31, 2015, San Francisco, CA

Ellen Herman (Professor of History and Faculty Codirector, Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics, University of Oregon)
“Autism, Between Risks and Rights”

Saturday, November 8, 2014, Chicago, IL

Ken Alder (Professor of History and Milton H. Wilson Professor in the Humanities, Northwestern University)
“Everyone’s Autobiography of Gertrude Stein”

Saturday, November 23, 2013, Boston, MA

Michael Sokal (Professor of History Emeritus, Worcester Polytechnic Institute)
“Understanding Testing as Technology”

Saturday, November 17, 2012, San Diego, CA

Theodore M. Porter (Professor of History, University of California, Los Angeles)
“Funny Numbers”

Saturday, November 6, 2011, Cleveland, OH

Elizabeth Lunbeck (Nelson Tyrone, Jr. Professor of History and Professor of Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University)
“Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Power: Charisma, Fascination, and Narcissism”

Saturday, 6 November 2010, Montreal, Quebec

Mary S. Morgan (Professor of History and Philosophy of Economics, London School of Economics and University of Amsterdam)
“Recognising Glass Ceilings and Sticky Floors”

Saturday, 21 November 2009, Phoenix, AZ

Hamilton Cravens (Professor of History, Iowa State University)
“Imagining the Good Society: The Social Sciences in the American Past and Present”

Saturday, 8 November 2008, Pittsburgh PA

Henrika Kuklick (Professor of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania)
“Personal Equations: Reflections on the History of Fieldwork, with Special Reference to British Anthropology”

Saturday, 3 November 2007, Arlington VA

John C. Burnham (Professor of History, Emeritus, The Ohio State University)
“How Boundaries Dissolve in Writing Disciplinary Histories: The Exemplary, Agonizing Case of Accident Proneness (Unfallneigung)”

Saturday, 4 November 2006, Vancouver BC

Jill G. Morawski (Professor of Psychology, Wesleyan University)
“Experimenter, Heal Thyself! Relational Problems in the Psychological Laboratory”

Saturday, 5 November 5 2005, Minneapolis MN

George W. Stocking Jr. (Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus, University of Chicago)
“Anthropology and Anthropologists after World War II”