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Origins and Evolution of Artificial Cold in Europe, 1870-1970: Exploring Science/Technology/Industry Interfacing


The proposed research project focuses on the history of the science, technology, industry and cultural impacts of artificial cold, circa 1875-1970 in Europe. The field of artificial cold is of particular interest to historians and historical sociologists o f science, technology and medicine on two counts: it is a domain where science, technology and industry have often been closely linked, as well as a field in which European science, industry and technology have excelled. Moreover, it is a domain that invites studies of issues related to a number of social transformations brought about by the extensive use of artificial cold in the latter part of the 19th century, and especially during the first half of the 20th century.

We aim to add to existing literature a new dimension through the examination of two fundamental historical and sociological themes: On the one hand, convergence between academic research, engineering, industry and their social repercussions; on the other, the pursuit for convergence between assertive national science and the internationalisation or Europeanization of science. The structure and dynamics of activities and evolution of artificial cold offer an exceptional window into these dual processes, with an abundance of to-data unexploited archival and published documents. In doing so, we will bring to the fore the elements that have ensured European hegemony in key industrial, engineering and academic activities in the field of artificial cold.

Moreover, we will provide the means to examine how the tensions between national and European activities in the science, technology and industry of artificial cold have contributed in Europe's integration. The final outcome of the project will provide useful information and knowledge for policy makers and managers.

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