UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies


Conference: Technology, Environment and Modern Britain

14 February 2016

Date: Wednesday 27 April 2016

Location: UCL Wilkins Garden Room

Organisers of the workshop are Jon Agar and Jacob Ward.

To register to attend the workshop, please use this link (link).

This workshop explores the intersections of history of technology and environmental history of modern Britain. The following is a draft programme. The format of the meeting will be as follows: short papers (up to 4,000 words) are circulated in advance to participants. Presentations on the day are also kept short (10 minutes) in order to allow plenty room for discussion.

Lunch, tea and coffee will be provided.

This workshop is sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology Studies (UCL) and the British Society for the History of Science.

The workshop is open to all (up to capacity), and we particularly encourage attendance from STS colleagues, graduate students and early-career scholars. A link to register can be found below.

Provisional Workshop programme

10.00 Introduction


Jon Agar, ‘Technology, Environment and Modern Britain’

10.45 Damaging

Esa Ruuskanen (Oulu) ‘Encroaching Irish bogland frontiers: science, policy and aspirations in the early 19th Century’

Ralph Harrington (Leeds) ‘Landscape with bulldozer: machines, modernity and environment in post-war Britain’

11.30 Toxic Environments

Timothy Cooper (Exeter), ‘Technological failure and popular scepticism of science in modern Britain: the case of the Torrey Canyon’

Jessica van Horssen (Chester) ‘Urban environmental justice: Empire, asbestos, and council housing in Manchester, 1920-1990’


1.00 Distancing and Mediation

David Matless (Nottingham), ‘The Agriculture Gallery: displaying modern farming in the Science Museum’

Tim Cole (Bristol), ‘About Britain: driving the landscape of Britain’

Michael Guida (Sussex) ‘British nature in support of John Reith’s public service broadcasting, 1922-1928’

2.00 Produce of the land

Jim Clifford (Saskatchewan) ‘Fats of the land: a global history of London’s nineteenth-century soap and candle industry’

Matthew Holmes (Leeds) ‘Biotechnology in the British landscape: from hybridisation to genetic modification, 1953-1998’

Dominic Berry (Edinburgh) ‘Plants are technologies’


3.15 Containing

Jennifer Wallis (Oxford), ‘The compressed-air bath and the place of medical technology in the nineteenth-century health resort’

Annie Jamieson (Leeds) ‘Here come the sound guards: controlling the sound environment in the music festival industry’

Frank Uekotter (Birmingham) ‘Battery cages, the industrialized animal, and the meaning of freedom’

4.15 Fighting

Matthew Paskins (Leeds), ‘The “military-arboreal complex” and the contractor state, 1793-1830’

Simone Turchetti (Manchester) ‘”Establishment environmentalism”: NATO, Britain and environmental politics during the Cold War, 1969-1979’

5.00 BREAK

5.15 Energy

Tae Hoon Kim (Cambridge) ‘The environment in UK energy policy: a brief overview 1965-1989’ (TBC)

Thomas Turnbull (Oxford) ‘Britain’s sole member of the Club of Rome’

5.45 Discussion

With commentary from John Sheail