CFP: Maintainers II: Labor, Technology, & Social Orders, April 6-8, 2017

How nice to see this CFP while visiting the US Virgin Islands with the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC,! Being a digital library, with that as part of the name, innovation and technology are often assumed as primary. With dLOC, the people are always primary, and we all get to share on how dLOC is socio-technical (people, policies, communities, and technologies) and made possible by the people. dLOC’s history and origin story illuminate this with dLOC being born of the partners coming together for the dream in 2004 (and earlier dream plans and discussions from the 1990s). The technology for dLOC–and the web presence–came along in 2006, and has continued to evolve through community labor since.
I was excited to read the papers from the last Maintainers Conference, and I look forward to seeing more from this new Maintainers conference!

Call for Papers
Maintainers II: Labor, Technology, and Social Orders
April 6-8, 2017
We invite submissions and proposals for a conference called “The Maintainers II: Labor, Technology, and Social Orders,” to be hosted at Stevens Institute of Technology on April 6-8, 2017.  This meeting will build upon the discussions and community formed in the wake of activities in 2016, including the first Maintainers Conference at Stevens in 2016, an article that appeared in Aeon, and blogs and discussions launched at
Recent scholarship on technology has too often fetishized material things and their thinginess, and excluded any consideration of the humans who make those things work. The purpose of Maintainers II is to write humans back into stories of technology, as a way to highlight social inequalities, racial and ethnic disparities, and the structural maldistribution of the fruits of technological progress.
To do so, we build on a long tradition of the study of maintenance that spreads across disciplines, from historians such as Ruth Schwartz Cowan and David Edgerton to social scientists such as Lucy Suchman and Craig Henke. In the first Maintainers conference in 2016, scholars responded to a call for papers that positioned maintenance and Maintainers against prevailing discourses of innovation and Innovators.  In this second conference, we are emphasizing the theme of labor and laborers, in an effort to establish the study of maintenance framed on its own terms, as we have seen in recent work by scholars such as Jerôme Denis and David Pontille.
We are especially interested in proposals that examine the human dimensions of infrastructures, technological systems, and everyday life.  We are also particularly interested in presentations from practitioners of maintenance and repair—so if you have a Maintainer in your life who has something that he or she really wants to say, please send them our way. We welcome proposals for individual papers as well as full sessions, and proposals for anything that one wouldn’t usually see at an academic meeting (video, interactive sessions, interpretive dances, etc) also would be most welcome. All proposals are welcome, including those that engage the following ideas:

  • Case studies of specific groups of maintainers
  • Labor organizations around maintenance and repair work
  • The maintenance and conservation of repressive regimes (such as the infrastructure of Jim Crow segregation)
  • Methodologies for studying maintenance and repair
  • The fit between maintenance, maintainers, and traditional left-right, progressive vs. conservative political distinctions
  • Connections between failures, accidents, and (deferred or denied) maintenance
  • Deterioration, decay, disruption, and breakdown
  • Ingenuity and improvisation as key aspects of maintenance
  • Studies grounded either outside the United States or before the 1980s

Review of proposals will begin on Thursday December 1. Proposals should include a topic title, a description of roughly 300 words, and a current curriculum vita. Please submit questions to the conference organizers, Lee Vinsel (Stevens Institute of Technology – and Andrew Russell (SUNY Polytechnic Institute – Completed proposals should be submitted to