International Projects and Flagship programs

Tensions of Europe is a hub for international research projects on technology in European history.

Tensions of Europe also develops agenda-setting 'flagship' research programs. ToE flagship programs make participant projects speak to each-other and to broader societal and scholarly debates.


Intellectual points of departure: Tensions of Europe

  • studies technology in European history;
  • studies 'technology' broadly in terms of sociotechnical systems including people and values; knowledge, ideas and skills; networks, institutions and governance; user initiatives practices; the natural environment; and so on;
  • studies 'Europe' globally, including its transatlantic and (post)colonial relations -- in a global age, European history, too, must be global. This point is even more compelling from a technology perspective;
  • studies social TENSIONS in the making of technology and of Europe. ToE studies 'technology' and 'Europe' as human-made, and therefore imagined, situated, contested and conflicted, open-ended historical processes.


First flagship program: Technology & European integration/fragmentation, ca. 1850-2000

Initiated in 1999, the first flagship program addressed key debates of its time -- globalization and Europeanization, in Europe represented by the founding, deepening, and widening of the European Union. European integration history at the time predominantly made EU-centered analyses of politicians negotiating treaties. By contrast, Tensions of Europe spotlighted a bottom-up, hidden integration that profoundly shaped European identities, collaborations,  and everyday life: Since the 1850s at least, technology producers, regulators and users had connected and fragmented Europe through transnational infrastructure and the circulation of knowledge, people, artefacts, standards, user practices, and so on.

The investigation and writing of a new European history through the lens of technology developed in three overlapping phases.

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Second flagship program: Technology & Societal Challenges, ca. 1815-2015

Today ToE is building a second flagship program that engages with current debates on 'grand challenges' haunting our present-day world -- such as climate change and other environmental crises; the threatened breakdown of unsustainable cities and energy, mobility, financial, and health systems; migration and security challenges; and so on.

The argument in short:

  • Current societal and scholarly debates center on social and environmental 'grand challenges' that haunt our present-day world;
  • Technology plays a pivotal, yet ambiguous role as both cause and solution to these challenges;
  • Technology has played this double role for centuries (and centainly throughout the modern era);
  • Thus emerges the compelling historical question: how was (and is) technology involved in the (un)making of past and present challenges?
  • Tensions of Europe, as a scholarly community studying technology & transnational history, has the network and research experience to address this question.

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