Crises Imaginaries and Socio-Technical Cultures

Research group coordinators:

Anna Åberg (Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden).

Karena Kalmbach (Eindhoven University of Technology).

Andreas Marklund (Enigma Museum Copenhagen).

Contact: am[at]


Crises imaginaries and socio-technical cultures

Crises are a popular topic in historical research: International History has produced a vast amount of literature on key crises of the Cold War; Social and Cultural History has investigated various crises of societal norms, such as the of crisis of masculinity; and Intellectual History has identified the concept of crisis as a key concept of modernity. The topic of crises has served historians to stress the importance of long-durée perspectives and to focus on particular events.

The role of technology in the identification, conception, and handling of crises, however, has been overlooked so far in historical crises research. By focussing on the co-production of technology and society, the History of Technology can bring important new insights to historical crises research, in particular with regard to the wider context of the construction, handling and meaning of crises.

This research groups applies socio-cultural History of Technology perspectives to develop a better understanding of how technological developments have reshaped societies’ understandings of crises, and vice versa. The umbrella question of this working group is: How have crises imaginaries and socio-technical cultures co-produced each other, and what are the effects of this co-production, in particular regarding societal power-relations?



We want to approach this question on the one hand from the angle of different technologies and on the other hand from different engagements with, and expectations about technology. In doing so, we want to address questions such as:

  • How have technology imaginaries and crisis imaginaries co-produced each other?
  • What is the role of technology in defining a crisis, or declaring the end of a crisis?
  • When did the contestation of a crises situation lead to a strengthening or a weakening of a technological regime?
  • How do crises experiences of the past shape sociotechnical imaginaries of the future?
  • What futures do crises enable ('creative destruction')?
  • Who gains and who loses from a crisis?