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School of History and Sociology

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    The birth of the Taipei Metro and technological hybridity under American hegemony: The history of the rail mass transportation in postwar Taiwan
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2020-05-18) Huang, Ling Ming
    This dissertation discusses how a complex rail mass transportation emerged in postwar Taiwan, with particular emphasis on the role of U.S.-Taiwan relations in shaping Taiwan's profession of transportation studies and planning, and the subterranean railway project in Taipei, as well as the Taipei Metro. Two main interrelated theoretical innovations characterize this project. Firstly, I situate the evolution of the system in a global context. This is dominated in the 1950s and 1960s by American hegemony that "imposes" an 'American model" on Taiwan in the transportation study and planning phase in a Cold War context beginning with the Korean War. US President Nixon's tilt to mainland China in the 1970s opened a space for Taiwanese stakeholders to shop around for consultants and technology in different countries and led to the acquisition of very different types of hardware, to the consideration of different ways of laying out the tracks to facilitate passenger comfort, and even to different concepts for the huge central station to respect local customs. Facing a huge trade deficit with the U.S. in the 1980s, Washington then tried to impose a ‘Buy America’ policy on Taiwan, only to find that the local officials were now confident enough to push back against proposals made by U.S. consultants. Secondly, I introduce and analyze the concept of technological hybridity to capture the rich complexity of this "large technological system.” Thinking about the Taipei Metro as a multi-dimensional hybrid system that is also engaged in the project of nation-building obliges me to ask: in what sense can it be regarded as a national project? I suggest that the national achievement lies in the capacity to integrate these multiple hybridities into a smoothly functioning technical system that is the pride of local authorities, the government, and the people of Taiwan. Technological hybridity means the coexistence of knowledge, artifacts, and ideology coming from different nation-states in a technological system. However, we need to limit the use of the idea to particular conditions to give it any analytical weight. First, when hybridity redefines or changes the functions and meanings of the technology. Second, when hybridity mixes different political and technological ideologies even if they differ sharply from each other. Third, when hybridity reverses or at least changes the power relations between the stronger and the weaker partners. This dissertation aims to explain why and how hybridity occurred by analyzing the temporal-spatial environment, actors' interests and strategies, and the interactions among different actors and technology. Finally, this dissertation also discusses how people maintain and manage the systems and how users have used them. Taiwanese technical officials and Taiwanese people have built a "Formosa technological sublime," a concept derived from David Nye's American technological sublime, to exhibit Taiwan's collective morality and nationality by building and displaying a spectacular technological system. The Taiwanese do not have a techno-nationalist attitude towards the rail mass transportation system, which emphasizes the nation's originality in technological innovation. Rather, they treat the metro and even the high speed rail system as emblems of a modern nation, as materials from which to construct a newly emerging Taiwanese national identity.
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    Race space: The transformation of iconic motorsport circuits from public use to large technical system (1950 – 2010)
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2019-07-23) Westin, Peter Gustav
    The 1950s marked the beginning of a key transformational period in automobility and the socio-technical realm of motorsports. However, the car was not at the heart of the narrative which was much more complex. In Post-War Europe, people began to drive for pleasure on weekends and holidays while in the US, this extant access was supplanted by the quest for more status-oriented and powerful cars. On both continents it was also the time when motorsporting activities became formally organized and regulated with the creation of the globally oriented Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA) in Paris, France and the American oriented North American Stock Car Automobile Racing (NASCAR) in Daytona Beach, Florida (US). This chronicle is a transnational examination of motorsport’s place in automotive technology and culture as well as of unique motorsport sites with physically shifting landscapes and tensions that cascaded across socio-cultural strains, technological innovation, and regulation. I locate this ambitious narrative at an intersection where several themes are fused together incorporating my interpretation of Thomas Hughes’ concept of large-technical systems in conjunction with Manuel Castells’ notion regarding highly technical nodes of a transnational business network, environ-mental complexity, easier mobility in Europe and America from proliferation of roadway networks, postwar consumption and increased “time budgets” coupled with technological enthusiasm, and coproduced hegemony instrumental to this evolution. Over time these would coalesce into a heterogenous network reliant upon multiple actors. According to Hughes’s model there are four phases: invention and development, interregional technology transfer, system growth, momentum. While not yet a transnational network in the first phase, motorsports grew to become inextricably intertwined globally. This growth also complicated the relationship between technology, regulation, and the environment. Further as people earned more (especially in Europe) they learned to be a consumer and with more free time they could take vacations and drive to races. Enthusiasts formed social networks and communities of DIY car clubs, fan clubs, clubs for specific automotive brands, amateur driving clubs, and Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA). Active participants who were initially hobbyists and mechanics transformed into professional drivers and engineers as they learned to apply scientific principles like fluid dynamics, and methods like modeling to designing very complex machines. These heterogenous networks incorporating what became large technical systems and their socio-cultural dynamics illustrate that the car was not central.
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    One satellite for the world: The American Landsat earth observation satellite in use, 1953-2008
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2017-04-05) Jirout, Brian
    In July 1972, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched the Earth Resources Technology Satellite-A, later renamed Landsat, which was the first of its kind. NASA launched seven more Landsats with one failure. The satellites orbited north to south covering the entire Earth while its instruments gathered imagery across several spectral bands at medium resolution of the Earth’s terrestrial and coastal surface. Using archival materials, government documents, and informal interviews, my dissertation argues in an introduction, four chapters, and a conclusion that the use of Landsat imagery changed over time and that international law and domestic policy deeply affected its availability despite a commitment by the US government to non-discriminatory access. My first chapter argued that agricultural applications became the first major application of Landsat data and later adopted by the intelligence community to conduct economic espionage on the Soviet Union. Using documents from the United Nations and American National Archives, one chapter demonstrated how these institutions deliberated over and configured international law and domestic policy such that Landsat data would be available to developing countries for use. My last two chapters describe how Landsat became a commercial entity which ultimately failed and the government recovered the program and committed to its continuity. Since Landsat’s development in the late 1960s, the satellite program began as a publicly run experimental project, commercialized into a private operation, and later became a public-private partnership. This study has the following major contributions and findings. My dissertation covers the history of the Landsat program from its origins in the 1950s to open data access in 2008 building upon previous studies of Landsat. I also argued that there are four major periods of Landsat’s history. These periods reflect the differing use and availability of Landsat throughout its history. My thesis found that the commercialization of space technology, a fast growing trend, was a highly political process that pushed Landsat from the public to private sector and led to cost-prohibitive data that drove away the user community. Similarly, the US government attempted to foster a strong foreign user base through ground stations and development programs and experienced success as well as difficulty given trade and export policies to certain countries. Lastly, Landsat, despite being a civilian program, was used heavily by the intelligence community in studies of natural resources in America’s Cold War adversaries. Overall, the various applications of Landsat data and the various laws and regulations put into place by the US federal government deeply affected Landsat data availability and ultimately made it more difficult to access throughout much of its history until the 2000s.
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    Flying the flag: Gender and the projection of national progress through global air travel, 1920-1960
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2017-04-05) Gibson, Emily Katherine
    This dissertation uses a feminist analytical lens to study questions of power and difference in the gendered and racial dynamics of marketing strategies, public relations, and employment within the aviation industry from 1920-1960. Demonstrating that gendered and racial business strategies and views of technology did not develop separately from the aviation industry, this work argues that understanding modern meanings and patterns of commercial air travel requires an examination of how notions of gender, race, and international development determined the course of commercial aviation’s development. The dissertation is divided into two parts that correspond to two main periods in the history of aviation: the inter-war period formation of major commercial aviation firms and the WWII/immediate post-war period of global expansion and the “jet age.” The first section argues that women occupied a unique role in commercial aviation’s growth as a state project and symbol of national modernity during the inter-war period, while they also challenged the limits of those proscribed roles. This section examines women as symbols of domestication for the technology of flight in the United States, China, and Turkey. The second section examines commercial aviation’s growth and expansion during WWII and the postwar period. This section examines Pan American Airways and Air France as vectors of national political and economic power that worked to: build a brand for their airline based on providing exceptional service, articulate a particularly gendered corporate vision of sales and service, and promote diplomacy and state interests in international and colonial contexts.
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    National aspirations, imagined futures, and space exploration: The origin and development of Korean Space Program 1958-2013
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2015-11-13) An, Hyoung Joon Hyoung
    The goal of my dissertation is to describe the history of the South Korean1 space program and to use it to offer some insights on reframing space history from a global point of view. South Korea is a new player among the space faring nations. While some of the necessary infrastructure was put in place in the 30 years after the launch of Sputnik, the country only really made a commitment space in the 1990s, developing rapidly to become a significant presence today. The launch of KITsat-1 (Uribyul-1, the first Korean satellite) in 1992 marks its first major achievement, after which it built up its technological capabilities in the space sector in a relatively short period. South Korea now has twelve satellites and operates several space projects, and successfully developed its first space launch vehicle, KSLV-1, also known as Naro, in 2013. Although KSLV-1 is derived from the first stage of the Russian Angara rocket, combined with a solid-fueled second stage built by South Korea, its successful launch was the crucial step for the development of the country’s civilian space program. South Korea aims to develop the first wholly Korean-made launch rocket, KSLV-2 by 2020, which will additionally be used to launch a moon orbiter later that year. Korea’s recent aspiration to space exploration can be seen as part of global narrative in which the conquest of space is not dominated by a few superpowers. Our understanding of the past half-century of space development is, however, still firmly rooted in the framework of the old Cold-War-centered approach to space history. Until recently, only large and powerful nations have been able to mobilize the resources necessary for access to space, so the early years of space exploration produced a simple narrative: a fierce space competition between the Soviet Union and the U. S., with a few countries following behind in a struggle to increase their presence in space. Yet emerging powers’ stories of space development were barely noticed in comparison with the abundant literature on the space history of the super-powers and the increasing literature on middle-range space powers. In order to situate the South Korean space program in this evolving global context, this dissertation attempts to answer the following critical questions: What is the origin of Korean space development? Why is South Korea a late-comer in space, and why is it becoming more active today? How have its motivations and rationales evolved in defining relationships with other countries including the U.S., Russia, France, China, Japan, and even North Korea? Why does it continue to emphasize the need for “Korean” technology in space? In essence, what is Korean about the Korean space program? I seek answers to these questions by examining the relationship between a “space program” and “the construction of national identity” in a political, social, and transnational context. Through historical analysis, I will show that South Korea’s space program has been primarily driven by nationalistic rationales implicit in the argument that space development served “modernization,” “self-defense,”, “economic security”, and “national prestige.” By tracing the multiple links between technological prowess and national imagination, I connect these four rationales using to periodization; 1950s~1960s, 1970~1984, 1985~1997, and 1998~2013. A close examination of the history of the development of space exploration in South Korea offers a fertile ground for exploring the question how the rationales of space development have evolved as the Korean state worked on nation-building in a global context.
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    Satellite meteorology in the cold war era: scientific coalitions and international leadership 1946-1964
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2014-01-07) Callahan, Angelina Long
    In tracing the history of the TIROS meteorological satellite system, this dissertation details the convergence of two communities: the DOD space scientists who established US capability to launch and operate these remote sensing systems and the US Weather Bureau meteorologists who would be the managers and users of satellite data. Between 1946 and 1964, these persons participated in successive coalitions. These coalitions were necessary in part because satellite systems were too big—geographically, fiscally, and technically—to be developed and operated within a single institution. Thus, TIROS technologies and people trace their roots to several research centers—institutions that the USWB and later NASA attempted to coordinate for US R&D. The gradual transfer of persons and hardware from the armed services to the non-military NASA sheds light on the US’s evolution as a Cold War global power, shaped from the “top-down” (by the executive and legislative branches) as well as the “bottom-up” (by military and non-military scientific communities). Through these successive coalitions, actor terms centered on “basic science” or the circulation of atmospheric data were used to help define bureaucratic places (the Upper Atmospheric Rocket Research Panel, International Geophysical Year, NASA, and the World Weather Watch) in which basic research would be supported by sustained and collaboration could take place with international partners.
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    Space for "development": US-Indian space relations 1955 -1976
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2011-11-18) Maharaj, Doraisamy Ashok
    Through four case studies of technological systems - optical tracking of satellites, sounding rockets, instructional television through a geosynchronous satellite, and a launch vehicle--I explore the origins and development of the Indian space program from 1955 through 1976, a period critical in shaping the program's identity and its relationship to the state. Institutionalized, and constructed in different geographic regions of India, these systems were embedded in the broader political, economic, and social life of the country and served as nodes around which existing and new scientific and technological communities were formed. These organic, highly networked communities in turn negotiated and developed a space program to meet the social and strategic demands of a new modernizing nation state. That modernizing program was, in turn, embedded in a broader set of scientific, technological and political relationships with industrialized countries, above all the United States. The United States' cooperation with India began with the establishment of tracking stations for plotting the orbits of artificial satellites. Cognizant of the contributions made by Indian scientists in the field of astronomy and meteorology, a scientific tradition that stretched back several decades, the officials and the scientific community at NASA, along with their Indian counterparts outlined a cooperative program that focused on the mutual exploration of the tropical space for scientific data. This initial collaboration gradually expanded and more advanced space application projects brought the two democratic countries, in spite of some misgivings, closer together in the common cause of using space sciences and technologies for developing India. In the process India and the United States ended up coproducing a space program that responded to the ambitions of the postcolonial scientific and political elite of India. The global Cold War and the ambiguities, desires and tensions of a postcolonial nation-state vying for leadership among the newly decolonized states in the Afro-Asian region are critical for understanding the origins and the trajectory of India's space program. Without this political context and the construction of a transnational web of relationships, it is highly unlikely that the Indian scientific and technological elite, along with their industrial and political partners, would have succeeded in putting India on the space map of the world.
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    Big-science, state-formation and development: the organisation of nuclear research in India, 1938-1959
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2007-11-15) Phalkey, Jahnavi
    This thesis is a history of the beginnings of nuclear research and education in India, between 1938 and 1959, through the trajectories of particle accelerator building activities at three institutions: the Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, the Palit Laboratory of Physics, University Science College, Calcutta, later (Saha) Institute of Nuclear Physics, and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bombay. The two main arguments in this thesis are: First, the beginnings of nuclear research in India were rooted in the "modernist imperative" of the research field. However, post-war organisation of nuclear research came to be inextricably imbricated in processes of state-formation in independent India in a manner such that failure to actively engage with the bureaucratic state implied death of a laboratory project or constraints upon legitimately possible research. Second, state-formation, like the pursuit of nuclear research in India for the period of my study, became about India's participation and claim upon the universal. State-formation was equally a modernist imperative. Powerful sections of the nationalist bourgeoisie in India understood "Science" and the "State" as universals in World History, and India, they were convinced, had to confirm its place in history as an equal among equals. These two arguments combined explain how nuclear research came to be established, transformed, and extended through the gradual assembly of material infrastructure to realistically enable the new country take a capable decision on the nuclear question.
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    Capturing Believers: American International Radio, Religion, and Reception, 1931-1975
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2005-11-29) Stoneman, Timothy H. B.
    Capturing Believers provides a history of the reception of American conservative evangelical missionary broadcasting from its inception in 1931 through the rise of the commercial era in 1970. The dissertation narrates accounts of two major Protestant stations, HCJB and ELWA, located in Ecuador and Liberia, respectively, as well as the U.S.-based project to build a custom transistor radio for the mission field. Employing a case-study approach, the thesis demonstrates the innovativeness of religious broadcasters who formulated a range of pragmatic responses to the drastic shortage of receiving sets in the southern hemisphere, including the use of social convention and the development of pretuned receiver technology. Missionary stations imported not only radios, but a constellation of American values into host countries through their reception activities. Overall, officials employed creative methods to construct a particular type of listener experience known as radio capture, characterized by regular listening in a domestic setting. By penetrating into the home or village and exposing listeners to proprietary broadcasts on a continual, even daily, basis, missionary receiver programs legitimized American conservative evangelicalism abroad and sowed seeds for a widespread revival of Protestantism in Latin America and Africa after 1970.
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    Facing Competition: The History of Indigo Experiments in Colonial India, 1897-1920
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2004-08-20) Kumar, Prakash
    The purpose of this dissertation is to describe in detail the efforts made to protect natural indigo the blue dyestuff extracted from the leaves of the indigo plant (Indigofera tinctoria) - against the market competition of cheaper and purer synthetic indigo - which was derived from coal-tar hydrocarbons. Throughout the nineteenth century British India was the pre-eminent producer and supplier to the West of indigo for its thriving textile industry. The introduction of synthetic indigo on the market in 1897 by two German companies threatened to end Indias dominant role in the indigo trade. To counteract competition from the synthetic substitute the European planters living in India, supported by the colonial and the national governments, conducted scientific research in the laboratories and farm stations. This dissertation fundamentally focuses on these scientific efforts made in India and England, and contributes to the scientific and technological history of Modern South Asia.