Speaker: David Edgerton, Hans Rausing Professor of the History of Science and Technology and Professor of Modern British History, King’s College London.
Our knowledge of the material constitution of society is limited, but is problematic because we think it unproblematic. This is a issue not just for the history of technology, but all the relevant humanities and social sciences which assume a well-founded account of its development. Starting with a story written for a local magazine in the 1930s I show we can use what are taken as peripherical cases as a starting point of a critique of the ways in which the centre and the whole is understood. While it is a commonplace to suggest that we should not judge peripheries by the standards of centres, and that peripheries are like centres that the distinction is inappropriate, I suggest that the centre and the whole is much more like the periphery than we care to acknowledge. What have been taken as features of the periphery– from agriculture, adaptation, transfer, imitation, inauthenticity, the persistence of the old, to maintenance, should be central to our accounts of the centre.
Free and open to the public. Space is limited, first come, first seated.