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Table of contents

No. 9 - Volume 6 (2018)
Edited by Karsten Uhl / Christian Zumbrägel

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Karsten Uhl / Christian Zumbrägel: Einführung: Technik – Körper – Geschichte
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The history of the body and the history of technology have similar foci. This introduction gives a brief overview over the subject of this issue and the individual contributions. This issue’s contributions examine the concept of hybrid and technified bodies in modern history. The authors analyse the relationship between bodies and technology in several historical contexts in the 19th and the 20th century.


Karsten Uhl / Christian Zumbrägel: Technikgeschichte des Körpers. Methodische Überlegungen zu einer nutzerzentrierten Analyse verkörperter Machtverhältnisse
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Since the 1990s, historical research on the relationship between bodies and technology has enriched our understanding of different perceptions and representations of artificial bodies in the modern era. This debate came into sharp relief in the debate on cyborgs. In this article, our main focus will not be on whether artificial body modifications have new features that allow us to label bodies cyborgs. Instead, we suggest an approach to adopt innovative ways to investigate technified body practices within their specific technological environment. Based on our concept of bodies as interfaces between technology and the humane, our contribution seeks to shed light on everyday practices. In particular microhistorical approaches, which strengthen the user’s perspective on technology, i.e. the cultural appropriation of technology is of foremost interest in everyday contexts of body-technology interactions.


Jan Hansen: Shaping the Modern Body: Water Infrastructure in Los Angeles (1870–1920)
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This article examines the appropriation of new water technologies in Los Angeles between 1870 and 1920. In particular, it explores how social reformers aimed to establish sanitary conduct. Adjusting consumers to tap water and toilet facilities instead of public wells and surface sewers was a contingent process. It required both the disciplining of everyday life routines and the habitualization of bodily practices by consumers. In circa 1900 Los Angeles, this process connected to the biopolitical formation of the city population. By excluding Mexican and Chinese Americans from water infrastructure, the white majority produced the “modern city” on the model of the “modern body,” both imagined in racial, classed, and gendered categories.

Claudia Roesch: “You have to remember to do something to make the Pill work”. Hormonelle Verhütung als Körpertechnik zwischen Disziplinierung und Selbstermächtigung
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This paper examines the contraceptive pill as a technological means to shape women’s bodies into reproductive, sexually available, and healthy bodies. Conducting a micro-study of letters-to-the-editor written to Ms. Magazine in 1975, it traces how the technological innovation of contraceptives disciplined reproductive bodies, while at the same time it offered women a chance of empowerment. The availability of reliable contraceptives shaped both society’s and women’s expectations towards reproduction and sexuality, however its side effects put healthy women under a medical surveillance regime. The pill was not only a means of biopolitical intervention; women actively chose to use it to transform their bodies. Risk management introduced new practices of decision-making, since women had to actively seek information and make an informed choice on how to shape their reproductive, sexual, and healthy bodies.

Leonie Karwath / Joachim C. Häberlen: Mit der Technik tanzen. Technokörper im Berlin der frühen Neunziger Jahre
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The article investigates how technology, especially music, was used to produce specific bodies in the Berlin Techno scene after the fall of the wall. It argues that dancing was a mode of appropriating technology, as not only music but also visual effects affected bodies. The article describes three configurations of the techno body: the desiring body, the exhausted body, and the connected body. Rather than seeking to unveil the naïveté of a search for liberated bodies, the article suggests that Techno allowed
protagonists to experiment with the body and thereby to produce new and exciting bodies. In that sense, the article traces the potentialities of using technologies to affect and produce historically specific bodies.

Esther Berner: Takt vs. Rhythmus: Die Erziehung des Körpers zwischen Technisierung und Technikkritik
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The article contextualizes the education of the body and its movements in the Weimar Republic with the then virulent modernization debates. It emphasizes the ubiquitous use of a vocabulary borrowed from technology and engineering, which finds itself in discussions of modern production methods as well as body-cultural phenomena. The common dualisms (community vs. society, soul vs. spirit, culture vs. civilization, ecstasy vs. will, etc.) were joined by the juxtaposition of rhythm and tact: the former attributed to the principle of life and the latter identified with the pitching of the machine. It can be shown how, in the course of the 1920s, the body discourse became increasingly influenced by the philosophy of life, whereas the psychophysiological model of the „human motor” (A. Rabinbach) fell behind. In this context, the psychological category of the will gained central importance. Along with a politicization of aesthetic body-movementnorms the will was recognized as a crucial pedagogical point of attack in the insertion of the individual in the superordinate community body.

Frank Becker: „Menschenökonomie“ statt „Herrschaft der Technik“. Die industriepädagogischen Konzepte des „Deutschen Instituts für technische Arbeitsschulung“ (DINTA) 1925-1933
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The “German Institute for Technical Labour Training” (DINTA), which was founded on behalf of the German heavy industry in 1925 in Düsseldorf, intended to prevent the people from being “enslaved” by technology. By acquiring ideas of the “Conservative Revolution” the institute proclaimed a “human economy”, which was supposed to shape industrial work in respect of skills and needs of the people instead. It referred to the newest research results of the science of work, especially labour physiology and industrial psychology. Out of that the DINTA introduced new educational concepts for the industrial field (“Industriepädagogik”). On that basis they invented a new training for the offspring of industrial workers and implemented it in specific apprenticeship workshops (“Lehrwerkstätten”). This article focuses on these workshops and analyses its goals and functionality referring to the theoretical and methodical approach of a New History of Labour.

Jan Kellershohn: „Automatisierungsverlierer“. Kybernetische Pädagogik, „Lernbehinderung“ und der Körper des Bergberufsschülers in den 1960er Jahren
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The dominant narrative of the body-machine-relation in the 1960s evolves around the proclaimed shift from a material to a dematerialised body. Considering the practical and technical implications of the contemporary perception, this article aims at re-evaluating this narrative and suggests a larger understanding of this alleged shift. Based on the example of cybernetic pedagogy in the West German mining industry’s vocational training system during the 1960s and early 1970s, two main arguments can be raised: first, the so-called “coal crisis” implied an “imperative of qualification” and teaching machines responded to that need. Likewise, they functioned as a means of rationalisation and individual motivation. Second, the teaching machines engendered the problematisation of those pupils who were not considered able to improve mentally. Describing, measuring and identifying “learning disabled” pupils became a key issue. Consequently, the history of the “losers of automation” is also a history of their epistemic constitution.

Christian Ebhardt: „Als Ganzes gesehen ist das Schiff noch immer Beispiel für eine Riesenhandarbeit“ – Produktionssysteme und der Körper des Werftarbeiters während der 1970er Jahre
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Even today shipbuilding has a very unique production system that is rooted in single piece production. It situates the shipyard somewhere between a workshop, a construction site and a factory. This peculiar environment had a profound impact on working conditions as well. Here the 1970s were a period of change not only seen from a more general societal perspective but also within the shipyards in particular. Shipyards came under increasing internal stress with wildcat strikes and growing demands for better working conditions. Furthermore from the middle of the 1970s onwards a deep shipbuilding crisis affected relationships within the companies in a profound way. By taking a specific look at working conditions as well as debates about the body of the
shipyard worker, I aim to reflect on these changes in the context of the human machine relationship.

Eike-Christian Heine: Die technisierten Körper der Erdarbeiter um 1900
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The human body was the motor, which drove the construction of the infrastructures of European modernity. The article focuses on the bodies of earth workers and analyses (1) how they powered the work processes by which cuttings and embankments were built, (2) how they formed the centre of work culture, and (3) how they were “fuelled” with alcohol, which stabilised the power relations on the building site, both by disciplining the workers and offering them brief escapes from a heteronomous situation. Closely reading two autobiographies, I argue that the conditions for these unskilled migrant workers continued to be largely pre-modern. Their bodies remained unchanged to the new scientific and popular representations and technologies of the body that developed around 1900 (e.g. rationalisation, bureaucratisation). The formative processes of modernisation produced representations and uses of the body, which remained impervious to change. The article is a reminder to challenge affirmative rhetoric of modernisation and innovation by analysing remains as a necessary and productive part of historical change.