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Industrial hazards and accidents (late 17th – late 19th century)

Risques et accidents industriels (fin XVIIe – fin XIXe siècle)

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Published on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 by Élodie Faath

Summary

Technological accidents question our industrial society; they are an inherent part of the “risk society” concept that scientists, sociologists, geographers and anthropologists have popularised since the eighties. However, in order to step back and take a longer term view, historicization of the concept is necessary. Although historians have also begun to examine this question, they have focused primarily on the most contemporary period during which spectacular accidents have occurred and have sometimes led to disasters. But industrial (or artisanal or mining) accidents occurred throughout the earlier economic development process in Europe. They went hand in hand with the emergence of the industrial society that they helped to create. 

Announcement

"Industrial hazards and accidents (late 17th– late 19th century)", conference 19th – 20th December 2013, Paris 

Argument

Technological accidents question our industrial society; they are an inherent part of the “risk society” concept that scientists, sociologists, geographers and anthropologists have popularised since the eighties. However, in order to step back and take a longer term view, historicization of the concept is necessary. Although historians have also begun to examine this question, they have focused primarily on the most contemporary period during which spectacular accidents have occurred and have sometimes led to disasters. But industrial (or artisanal or mining) accidents occurred throughout the earlier economic development process in Europe. They went hand in hand with the emergence of the industrial society that they helped to create. This conference aims to contribute to a greater understanding of this “first” ill-known historical period in order to define artisanal and industrial hazards and accidents during the early period of industrial adjustment. During the late 17th century, the growth of both economics and probability theory provided a new conceptual framework for the analysis of the relationship between productive activities and their effects. Two centuries later, insurance schemes had become the main form of risk management.  Focusing on this process which has evolved over several centuries, the conference also aims to pull together issues often considered separately (for example from a technical, economic, political, medical or urban perspective) in order to gain a broader understanding of their emergence and impact on society. 

Proposals should be set against this chronological context, from late 17th to late 19th century, and question the issue of the economics of artisanal and industrial accidents, which should be understood very broadly as part of a wide range of production modes and associated activities – storage and transport of hazardous materials etc. – through which the dichotomies of prevention/compensation, legislative/market-based regulation, knowledge and expertise/political decisions, economics/environmental considerations or technologies and organisations/human responsibilities can be analysed. Case studies are welcome provided they can be related to a general discussion of concepts or scale comparisons. Even though European contexts (and especially French and British) are prominent in the research programme associated with this conference, other contexts (North-American, colonial etc.) could also provide a research terrain for papers.

Historical analyses of the systemic chain of artisanal and industrial accidents can be approached through the following topics: 

  • Regulation policies and social conflicts

Proposals on this topic should focus, through the concept of “regulation”, on the analysis of private or public intervention – at different scales – and its interactions with technology, cities, legislation, economics and political power struggles. Recent research emphasizes the role played by conflicts, especially in urban environments, an angle which this conference aims to address in greater detail.

  • Technologies and risk management

Several forms of risk management coexist and overlap. While some countries, such as France, favour the administration of technical standards, others, such as Britain prefer to leave risk management to private organisations and in particular to insurance companies. Proposals on this topic should investigate the relevance and nuances of these competing and permeable systems. This area of questioning should also lead to exploring temporal aspects (accident recurrence, links between accidents and standards, prevention vs. compensation approaches) and the very different ways in which these management forms have evolved.

  • Compensation policies and insurance

Proposals on this topic should explore the financialization of accidents, both a priori (prevention) and post-hoc (compensation). While these aspects are obviously linked to economics, insurance history is also connected to the development of social protection, state regulation, trade unionism and mutual insurance funds. The conference aims to question the emergence of purely industrial insurance (steam engines, fire, work accidents etc.) as well as the persistence of charity-based insurance forms, corporatist solidarity, state compensation or private/public hybrid insurance funding. Exploring the internal regulation systems of companies whereby risk is integrated into financial management and company investments is also a possible focus.

  • Assistance and care

Health measures on industrial premises, emergency assistance systems and the medical management of accident victims are at the heart of industrial risk policies. Proposals on assistance and care required as a result of industrial and work accidents are welcome as this is a well-researched topic albeit from a philanthropic, aid or social protection perspective. 

Submission guidelines

Proposals should not necessarily be restricted to one of these topics; crosscutting research linked to the general aims of the conference would also be appreciated. 

The conference will take place in Paris (venue to be communicated later) on 19 and 20 December 2013.

The conference languages will be French and English.

Proposals (paper title, abstract limited to 2,000 characters, short CV) should be sent to Thomas Le Roux at tleroux@ehess.fr  and thomas.leroux@history.ox.ac.uk 

before 15 May 2013.

A response from the organizing committee can be expected on 15 June 2013. Papers will pre-circulate prior to the conference, and a publication is planned. 

This conference is a scientific event which is part of the research programme “History of industrial hazards and accidents, France and Britain, late 17th century – late 19th century”, based at the Centre de Recherches Historiques (EHESS/CNRS). It is funded by the City of Paris, as part of its Emergence(s) programme for 2011-2013, and also supported by the CNRS, the EHESS and the Maison Française in Oxford. Website: http://risks.hypotheses.org  

Organizing Committee

  • Claire Barillé (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre - IDHE)
  • Guillaume Carnino (CRH – CNRS/EHESS, COSTECH-UTC)
  • Jean-Baptiste Fressoz (Imperial College London)
  • Frédéric Graber (CRH – CNRS/EHESS)
  • François Jarrige (Université de Bourgogne)
  • Thomas Le Roux (Maison Française d’Oxford, CRH – CNRS/EHESS)
  • Michel Letté (CNAM)
  • Christelle Rabier (London School of Economics)
  • Marie Thébaud-Sorger (CRH – CNRS/EHESS)

Scientific Committee

  • Patrice Bret (Centre Koyré - EHESS)
  • Robert Fox (University of Oxford)
  • Patrick Fridenson (CRH – CNRS/EHESS)
  • Liliane Hilaire-Perez (Université Paris 7, EHESS)
  • Jan Lucassen (International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam)
  • Philippe Minard (Université Paris 8 – IDHE, EHESS)
  • Lissa Roberts (University of Twente)
  • Dominique Pestre (Max Planck Institut Berlin, Centre Koyré - EHESS)
  • Paul-André Rosental (Sciences-Po Paris)
  • Denis Woronoff (Université Paris 1)
  • Cornel Zwierlein (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)

Places

  • Paris, France (75)

Date(s)

  • Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Keywords

  • industrialisation, risques, pollution, accidents, assurance, régulation

Contact(s)

  • Thomas Le Roux
    courriel : oekoomeo [at] wanadoo [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Thomas Le Roux
    courriel : oekoomeo [at] wanadoo [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Industrial hazards and accidents (late 17th – late 19th century) », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, January 22, 2013, https://calenda.org/235935

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