SHOT Joint Session

When History of Science and Technology is Difficult History


Aimee Slaughter

Los Alamos Historical Society


Aimee Slaughter

Los Alamos Historical Society


Session Abstract

How do we talk about history of technology and science when it's difficult history? Public historians and museum professionals use the term ""difficult history"" to describe histories of injustice, histories that can often be challenging for audiences. There are many specific points of contact where the history of science and technology can inform the broader conversation about difficult history. SHOT's inclusion of social justice in this year's conference theme points to the importance of considering the ways that studying and sharing histories of science and technology can be difficult.
In Interpreting Difficult History at Museums and Historic Sites, Julia Rose defines difficult history as ""histories of oppression, violence, and trauma."" Magdalena Gross and Luke Terra remind us that difficult history is difficult, in part, because of its connections with the present. Audiences, whether museum visitors or students, can shut out difficult histories. Presenters in this roundtable will discuss complex biography, disability, the Manhattan Project, miscarriage, slavery, and water/land usage.
In this roundtable we hope to start an conversation around the intersections between difficult history and the history of technology and science: How do we talk with students and with the public about difficult history? What responsibilities do we have as a field when engaging with difficult history in our scholarship? What stories are told (or not told) for different audiences? What can we learn from the history of science and technology about how we share difficult history?
This roundtable is submitted as a joint session of SHOT and HSS.

Presenter 1

Lara Freidenfelds

Presenter 2

Katrina N. Jirik

Presenter 3

Kara W. Swanson

Northeastern University

Presenter 4

Stephanie E. Vasko

Michigan State University

Presenter 5

Alex Wellerstein

Stevens Institute of Technology

Presenter 6

Johannes-Geert Hagmann

Deutsches Museum