Public history

International workshop: Histories of Maintenance and Repair

2 September 2021 bis 3 September 2021


Photothèque de la Ville de Luxembourg (Photographer: Pol Aschman)

International workshop organised by the REPAIR project team.

Over the past fifteen years, maintenance and repair practices have gained increasing academic attention, but the literature in the fields of history and philosophy of technology, science and technology studies, sociology and anthropology of technology is still focused on invention and newness. Complementing recent calls for a history of technology-in-use (D. Edgerton), broken-world thinking (S. Jackson) and a history of technology “after innovation” (A. Russell & L. Vinsel), we are working on the first systematic historical investigation of repair and maintenance in a Western consumer society.

In the spirit of chasing this turn, we have invited international scholars to present their own take on the histories of maintenance and repair. These range from considering the philosophical implications of our studies, to understanding societies through their creative interaction with technology, or the maintenance of large technological systems, and beyond. For a detailed picture, please see the program below. Together we will discuss the challenges of the field, share our fascination for technology and people, and close the gap one story at a time.


Day 1: Thursday, 2 September 2021, from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm (Online via Webex)

10:00 – 11:00 : Welcome by the organizers and introduction of participants

Session 1: Philosophy of Repair

11:00 – 11:45: Technology in Process: Maintenance and the Lives of Artifacts

Mark Thomas Young, University of Bergen

11:45 – 12:00 Coffee Break

Session 2: Maintaining High-Tech (and Power)

12:00 – 12:45: Innovation in Maintenance: Technical Achievements of Cleanroom Operators and Maintainers in Korean Semiconductor Production Line,1980s-2000s

Sangwoon Yoo, Hanbat National University

12:45 – 13:30: The Brazilian "Electronics Paradise:" Repair Work, Expertise, and Global Connections in Santa Efigênia

Liliana Gil, New School for Social Research, New York

13.30 - 14.30: Lunch Break 

Session 3: Repair Practices

14:30 - 15:15: Makeshift Engineering: Repairing Machines, Crafting Knowledge and Maintaining Relationships with Locally Manufactured Small Wind Turbine

Kostas Latoufis and Aristotle Tympas, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

15:15 - 16:00: Gendered Spaces of Repair, Maintenance, and Knowledge Production in Argentina,Twentieth Century 

Yovanna Pineda, University of Central Florida


Day 2: Friday, 3 September, from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm (Online via Webex)

10:00 - 10:30: Summary of Day 1

Session 1: Visual Inventory of Repair

10.30 - 11.15: Mobile Repair Cultures: from informal repair to silent innovation, the smartphone case

Anaïs Bloch, HEAD-Genève

11.15 - 11.30: Coffee break

Session 2: Maintaining Infrastructures

11:30 - 12:15: Between Old and New: “Modernizing”, Maintaining and Repairing Pneumatic Tube Systems

Laura Meneghello, Siegen University

12:15 - 13:00: Cultures and Costs of Maintenance. The Rise of Creosote and its Precarious Legacy 

Martin Meiske, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich

13.00 - 14.00: Lunch break

14:00 - 14:45: Imagining the Unmaintained Object: Industrial Transportation Infrastructure Decline as Narrative Symbol in the American Rust Belt

Amanda McMillan Lequieu, Drexel University  

Session 3: Maintaining Everyday Repair Opportunities

14:45 – 15:30: The Decline of Repair Businesses? Luxembourg’s Repair Sector, 1971-1985

Stefan Krebs and Thomas Hoppenheit, Luxembourg University

15:30 - 15:00: Closing Remarks 


To join our (online) exchange, please register to The Webex link will be given 1 or 2 days prior to the event. 

More information on the REPAIR project and this workshop here.

Organisers: Stefan Krebs, Rebecca Mossop and Thomas Hoppenheit (Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, C²DH)