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Consumers, Tinkerers, Rebels

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Who has decided how Europeans have dressed and dwelled? Traveled and dined? Worked and played? Consumers, Tinkerers, Rebels challenges every idea you might have about who can be credited with the shaping of Europe.

Certainly, inventors, engineers, and politicians played their parts. But in the making of Europe, consumers, tinkerers, and rebels were an unrecognized force—until now. This book spotlights the people who “made” Europe—by appropriating technology, protesting for and against it. Using examples from Britain and the Continent, the authors illustrate the conflicts that accompanied the modern technologies, from the sewing machine to the bicycle, the Barbie doll to the personal computers. What emerges is a fascinating portrait of how Europeans have lived, from the 1850s to the current century, which the book depicts by means of no less than 75 unique illustrations from all parts of Europe.

In this episode... 

Ruth Oldenziel unravels what a British chief banking clerk and a French chief justice had in common when they travelled first class through mid-nineteenth-century Europe. She explains what technology actually is, and shares with you how her personal demons influenced her research agenda.

Mikael Hård discusses why consumers, tinkerers and rebels are so relevant when discussing the making of Europe. He reflects on the train experience of a young Polish woman who wanted to start a new life in the Americas. And he takes you on the detour of food preservation to show how housewives circumventing certain usages of technologies had a decisive impact on the making of Europe.


Featuring in this episode

Ruth Oldenziel
Ruth Oldenziel Professor
Ruth Oldenziel is Chief editor elect of Technology and Culture; Full Professor in American and European History at the Eindhoven University of Technology. Her publications include (edited) books and articles in American, European, gender, and technology studies: A U-turn to the Past co-edited with M. Emanuel and F. Schipper (Berghahn, 2018 in production); Cycling Cities book series (SHT, 2016-present); Cycling and Recycling: co-edited with Helmuth Trischler (Berghahn 2015); Hacking Europe co-edited with Gerard Alberts (Springer 2013); Cold War Kitchen (MIT, 2009 co-edited with Karin Zachmann); and Making Technology Masculine: (AUP 1999).
Mikael Hård
Mikael Hård Professor
Mikael Hård is Full Professor of History of Technology at Darmstadt University of Technology (TU Darmstadt), Germany. He is presently directing the research project “A Global History of Technology, 1850-2000,” financed by the European Research Council. His books include Hubris and Hybrids: A Cultural History of Technology and Science (Routledge 2005; co-written with Andrew Jamison) and Urban Machinery: Inside Modern European Cities (MIT Press 2008; co-edited with Thomas J. Misa).

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