Erik Van der vleuten

Erik Van der vleuten
Eindhoven University of Technology | TUE · Department of Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences

PhD

About

91
Publications
31,965
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1,117
Citations
Citations since 2016
28 Research Items
683 Citations
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2016201720182019202020212022020406080100120140
2016201720182019202020212022020406080100120140
Introduction
Erik van der Vleuten is Professor and Chair of History of Technology at the Eindhoven University of Technology. He is a co-founding member and past chair of the pan-European history-of-technology research association Tensions of Europe, and initiated/coordinates the second ToE umbrella research program on Technology & Societal Challenges ca. 1800-2050. Erik researches the connected histories of technology and socioecological challenges in an infrastructured world.

Publications

Publications (91)
Book
Full-text available
Europe's critical infrastructure is a key concern to policymakers, NGOs, companies, and citizens today. A 2006 power line failure in northern Germany closed lights in Portugal in a matter of seconds. Several Russian-Ukrainian gas crises shocked politicians, entrepreneurs, and citizens thousands of kilometers away in Germany, France, and Italy. This...
Book
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Europe's infrastructure both united and divided peoples and places via economic systems, crises, and wars. Some used transport, communication, and energy infrastructure to supply food, power, industrial products, credit, and unprecedented wealth; others mobilized infrastructure capacities for waging war on scales hitherto unknown. Europe's natural...
Book
Full-text available
This book pioneers the historiography of engineering & societal challenges ca. 1815-2015. It unpacks such ‘grand challenges’ from the perspectives of diverse user, societal, enterprise, and professional groups, and discusses how these groups mobilized technology to solve challenges; how some technological solutions unexpectedly created new problems...
Research
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In 2016 we formed a number of transnational working groups to build research agendas and networks for the Tensions of Europe flagship program "Technology and Societal Challenges ca. 1800-2050". This Forum presents an introduction to the program and tentative findings from five of the working groups. Overview: https://www.tensionsofeurope.eu/2020/0...
Book
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The special issue uses the notion of a postcolonial Anthropocene to guide the research papers towards investigating (a) the situated emergence and shaping of site-specific constellations of science, technology and socio-ecological change, and (b) how inequitable transnational and postcolonial relations mattered to those situated histories.
Chapter
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This chapter argues that the sustainability history of the Soyacene must not only study sustainability issues produced at sites of soy cultivation and trade, but also those at sites of soy consumption. Focusing on areas in the Netherlands with some of the world’s most intensive animal farming (which is enabled by huge soy imports for protein supply...
Article
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The special issue introduction critically reviews and discusses debates on the notion of 'Anthropocene' and related concepts. Drawing in particular on historical and postcolonial Science & Technology Studies (STS), it then uses the notion of postcolonial Anthropocene to guide the research papers towards simultaneously investigating (a) the situated...
Article
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So far, the field of sustainability history has insufficiently addressed the tricky politics of academic sustainability knowledge making. In response, this paper studies how scientific research on palm oil sustainability, when defining sustainability problems and solutions, enacted a postcolonial politics of difference between Southeast Asia and Eu...
Article
The sustainability transitions field has been dominated by studies on single systems. Expanding the scope to Deep Transitions involving interactions between a broad array of socio-technical systems opens up new research directions in three important domains: 1) areas of intervention; 2) transition justice; 3) accelerating actors.
Chapter
Technology today is often presented as our best hope of solving the world's social and sustainability problems. And that's nothing new: engineers have always sought to meet the big challenges of their times-even as those challenges have shaped their technology. This book offers a historical look at those interactions between engineering and social...
Chapter
Technology today is often presented as our best hope of solving the world's social and sustainability problems. And that's nothing new: engineers have always sought to meet the big challenges of their times-even as those challenges have shaped their technology. This book offers a historical look at those interactions between engineering and social...
Chapter
Technology today is often presented as our best hope of solving the world's social and sustainability problems. And that's nothing new: engineers have always sought to meet the big challenges of their times-even as those challenges have shaped their technology. This book offers a historical look at those interactions between engineering and social...
Chapter
Technology today is often presented as our best hope of solving the world's social and sustainability problems. And that's nothing new: engineers have always sought to meet the big challenges of their times-even as those challenges have shaped their technology. This book offers a historical look at those interactions between engineering and social...
Chapter
Technology today is often presented as our best hope of solving the world's social and sustainability problems. And that's nothing new: engineers have always sought to meet the big challenges of their times-even as those challenges have shaped their technology. This book offers a historical look at those interactions between engineering and social...
Chapter
Technology today is often presented as our best hope of solving the world's social and sustainability problems. And that's nothing new: engineers have always sought to meet the big challenges of their times-even as those challenges have shaped their technology. This book offers a historical look at those interactions between engineering and social...
Chapter
Technology today is often presented as our best hope of solving the world's social and sustainability problems. And that's nothing new: engineers have always sought to meet the big challenges of their times-even as those challenges have shaped their technology. This book offers a historical look at those interactions between engineering and social...
Article
Full-text available
The field of science and technology studies (STS) has introduced and developed a “sociotechnical” perspective that has been taken up by many disciplines and areas of inquiry. The aims and objectives of this study are threefold: to interrogate which sociotechnical concepts or tools from STS are useful at better understanding energy-related social sc...
Article
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link: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/752928 This essay introduces the forum about history and technology in an age of “grand challenges.” First, it sketches present-day political and engineering debates on technology’s role in solving or causing “grand societal challenges,” which allegedly threaten humanity and the environment. This raises the quest...
Article
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This article explores how radical historical change takes place in the form of connected, interacting, or "deep" transitions: transitions in different socio-technical systems [e.g. energy, mobility, food, military] interact and mutually reinforce change processes, leading to radical societal change. This paper discusses a historical Deep Transition...
Article
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This essay explores the (interdisciplinary) challenge of historically researching the entanglements of technology and multiple social and environmental crises. As a point of departure, it sketches how engineering communities today discursively connect ‘technology’ to ‘grand challenges’ and ‘history’. The essay then discusses how historians of techn...
Chapter
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De grote Europese stroomstoring van 2006 liet zien dat Nederland en België deel uitmaken van een enorm, transcontinentaal energievoorzieningssysteem. Dit illustreert Europa’s ‘verborgen’ materiële integratie, die een andere snelheid en dynamiek kende dan het politieke proces.
Article
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Selvom feltet teknologihistorie er yngre end videnskabshistorie, og som disciplin delvis afledt af det, er det dog ikke emnemæssigt mindre. Dels strækker feltet sig meget længere tilbage i tid - for så vidt vores viden om menneskets historie bygger på arkæologiske redskabsfund, så længe som selve homo sapiens' (præ)historie. Dels er genstandsområde...
Research
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This published lecture puts today’s debate on the role of engineering in our Age of Grand Challenges in historical perspective. Great social challenges triggered the birth of modern engineering roughly two centuries ago—and have shaped engineering science and practice ever since. Conversely, engineering solutions have shaped the modern world, for b...
Book
Technology today is often presented as our best hope of solving the world's social and sustainability problems. And that's nothing new: engineers have always sought to meet the big challenges of their times-even as those challenges have shaped their technology. This book offers a historical look at those interactions between engineering and social...
Article
Full-text available
We study the politics of water infrastructure through the Large Technical Systems (LTS) literature, which examines human agency in the dynamics of complex sociotechnical systems. We take into account the transnational turn in LTS-studies in the past decade. Transnational analysis is about the mutual shaping of the international, national, and local...
Article
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Small-scale hydroelectricity (hydel) currently receives worldwide attention as a clean, green, and socially just energy technology. People generally assume that downsizing hydel plants reduces harmful impacts. However, recent debates call for careful circumspection of small hydel’s environmental, social, and economic sustainability, if we are to av...
Article
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In the last 25 years or so, global and transnational history have grown into an incontrovertible research agenda, investigating how all sorts of circulations, entanglements, and connections shaped modern history. At the same time, this research agenda has been criticized for underestimating the study of historically important formations such as the...
Chapter
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The book introduction discusses the notion of Europe’s infrastructure transition: Over the past two centuries, Europe’s infrastructure, its overlapping economies, its military systems, and its natural environments interacted in an unpredictable, exceptionally dynamic process of radical historical change that transformed the continent beyond recogni...
Chapter
On October 24, 1967, the influential Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter published an article with a rather boring title, “The Acidification of Precipitation.” The message, however, was new and radical. The author, Svante Odén, claimed that “there is a more or less permanent cupola of polluted air over Europe.” Sulfur, he wrote, being emitted in large...
Chapter
“I saw immediately that something terrible had happened here. He was purple in the face, his pulse hardly countable. I had a desperate man in front of me.”1
Chapter
Lubmin is a tiny, unremarkable seaside resort in the northeast-ernmost corner of Germany. At first glance, it would seem an odd place for presidents, prime ministers, and EU top officials to come together. Situated on the Baltic Sea, far away from Europe’s political and economic centers, and struggling to survive as a resort, Lubmin enjoys none of...
Chapter
In central St. Petersburg, on the northern bank of the Neva, there is a railroad station. It is a fairly small one, with only a few tracks, but it has a particular place in Russian history: Vladimir Ilyich Lenin arrived here in spring 1917 to initiate the Great Socialist October Revolution. The Finland station can be regarded as the physical place...
Chapter
Michel Chevalier had a dream about the future of Europe: railroads, steam shipping lines and other infrastructure, in combination with the abolition of tariffs, would give rise to a “circulation society,” in which Europeans cooperated closely and enjoyed huge economic benefits. Poverty would vanish and natural obstacles would cease to hinder trade...
Chapter
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Friedrich Engelhorn had earned his citizenship and guild rights in Mannheim, in the German Grand Duchy of Baden, as a gold and silver smith. His 1847 marriage to Maria Magdalena Brustling, the daughter of an affluent local brewer, made him professionally independent and enabled a change of career. A tenant in the young couple’s new house provided d...
Chapter
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The connection and rupture of nature was part and parcel of Europe’s infrastructure transition. The chapters in Part III of this book inquire about the networking of Europe’s natural environment – its landscapes, waters, and skies. They first address the virtual integration of Europe’s environments into transnational scientific knowledge systems,...
Chapter
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In Europe’s infrastructure transition, infrastructure and economy building intertwined in many ways. This chapter and the next focus on the making of Europe’s economic connections and borders, and the role of infrastructure therein, since the 19th century. After a brief discussion of important economic system builders, these chapters show how they...
Chapter
On January 1, 2006, Russian energy company Gazprom interrupted its delivery of natural gas to neighboring Ukraine. During a few dramatic days the decision gave rise to worries in large parts of Europe, particularly in the countries situated further downstream along the same pipeline. On January 2, gas companies in Hungary, Slovakia, and Austria rep...
Chapter
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This chapter studies how changing meanings of vulnerability shaped Europe's electrical integration and fragmentation history. From the late 19th Century until today, these processes led to a multi-layered 'electrical Europe': transcontinental interdependencies exist and blur Europe's boundaries with Asia and Africa. At the same time, the national,...
Chapter
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This book has investigated the historical shaping of critical transnational infrastructure in Europe, its associated vulnerabilities, and its intertwine ment with broader processes of European integration and fragmentation. The chapters in the three parts have scrutinized these issues from different thematic angles and in a broad range of geographi...
Chapter
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How can we unravel the historical co-evolution of critical infrastructure, its vulnerabilities and governance responses, and contemporary Europe? An important premise of this book is that notions of infrastructure, vulnerability, and Europe and the relations between them cannot be understood straightforwardly in terms of univocal correlations betwe...
Chapter
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This chapter examines lock-in and change in energy regimes. We discuss regime theory in sustainability transitions scholarship, and call for symmetrical analysis of regime stability and change; a transnational perspective on transitions and regime dynamics; and the study of landscape-regime interactions. Then we scrutinize the long-term dynamics of...
Article
This edited volume addresses an important subject in postwar European history. The studies explore the role of technology in the construction of Sweden’s internationally modeled welfare state. Individual chapters examine state initiative in fields including technological knowledge production, the computer, space, and nuclear industries, but also ag...
Chapter
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This large chapter synthesizes, from a network perspective, research results of the large research program (70+ researchers) "Technology in the Netherlands in the 20th Century." It (1) charts the development of transport, communication and energy infrastructure; (2) analyzes the complex, multi-actor, and contested dynamics of these developments; (3...
Article
The “European Blackout” of 4 November 2006 is a key reference in current debates on transnational electricity infrastructure vulnerability and governance. Several commentators have observed that to understand what happened, one must look at history. Our paper answers this call and demonstrates how historical choices, path dependencies, and ways of...
Article
Recent transnational blackouts exposed two radically opposed interpretations of Europe's electricity infrastructure, which inform recent and ongoing negotiations on transnational electricity governance. To EU policy makers such blackouts revealed the fragility of Europe's power grids and the need of a more centralized form of governance, thus legit...
Chapter
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The quote above points to one of the major problems in Europe after the Second World War: the poor state of food supply. During and immediately after the war, outright food shortages occurred regularly, mainly due to the collapse of grain production and imports, and many of Europe’s inhabitants had considerable difficulty reaching sufficient daily...
Chapter
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Background Concepts for Examining LTS DynamicsSocietal Implications of LTSReferences and Further Reading
Article
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This essay investigates the possibility of a transnational history of technology. It takes the current, large scale research program Tensions of Europe: Technology and the Making of Europe, 1950–2000 as its point of departure. The grand promises of the recent transnational turn in historiography, from which historians of technology may profit and t...
Article
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This article explores what kind of 'Europe' was produced in the processes of transnational infrastructure building. It focuses on international organisations dedicated to Europe's infrastructural integration as a promising research site, where infrastructural collaborations (or the lack thereof) were articulated and negotiated. Case studies of the...
Article
There is a renewed attention for distributed generation (DG) in European electricity sectors, but implementing DG is often problematic. This article studies the current relative success of DG in Denmark. We take into account not only recent drivers of change such as energy policy and green activism, but also long-term stability and change in the el...
Book
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This edited volume inspired a transnational turn in the historiography of infrastructure and social change, and an infrastructural turn in European history
Article
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The paper explores processes of transnational network building in Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. The first section reviews several relevant literatures. It concludes that historiographies of Europe often recognize the pivotal importance of transnational network building, but fail to analyse network developments as well as their entanglement...
Article
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Infrastructural and societal changes intertwine in multiple ways. This makes the societal implications of infrastructural projects difficult to assess and anticipate. Yet in present day network societies this task is particularly urgent. This paper first identifies two positions that tend to monopolize and deadlock debates. Next it examines two dec...
Article
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This article investigates the material integration in the Netherlands. Section 1 maps the proliferation of network technologies during the last two centuries. Sections 2 and 3 scrutinize the complex dynamics of network development for selected cases. The case of the electricity supply network reveals how institutional frameworks stabilized network...
Article
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The article investigates how humans 'networked' wet nature and how this affected the shaping of Dutch society. First, it takes a grand view of Dutch history and describes how wet network building intertwined with the shaping of the Dutch landscape, its economy and its polity. Second, it investigates the specific challenges of wet network building--...
Article
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In the Netherlands, the simultaneous construction of society and network technologies has a long history, yet it is only in the twentieth century that the Netherlands has become a veritable Network Society. Drawing on the vocabulary of the research field of 'large technical systems' and the empirical results of the Dutch national history of technol...
Article
Full-text available
In the Netherlands, the simultaneous construction of society and network technologies has a long history, yet it is only in the twentieth century that the Netherlands has become a veritable Network Society. Drawing on the vocabulary of the research field of ‘large technical systems’ and the empirical results of the Dutch national history of technol...
Article
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The Netherlands is a country physically structured by water. In addition to many minor rivers and canals, three large European rivers--the Meuse, the Scheldt and the Rhine--meander their way through the country to- wards the North Sea. A flat topography mostly at or below sea level is combined with a relatively high population density and wealth. I...
Book
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Knowledge, Technology & Policy Vol. 14, No. 4 (Special Issue).
Book
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This Ph.D. thesis offers (1) a structured narrative of co-existing and mutually shaping local, regional, and national scales in the Danish electrification process; (2) a combination of the Large technical Systems (LTS) and social constructivism (SCOT) frameworks of analysis, which had emerged separately in the 1980s. In particular, the thesis exami...
Article
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This article challenges the teleology in electricity history (and much other infrastructure history writing), which tends to implicitly or explicitly assume a technical or economic 'soft determinism' towards scale increase and ever larger systems. It does so by revisiting the history of the most local (and historiographically overlooked) form of el...
Article
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This long article, based on extensive archival research, studies the socio-technical system transition from flour mill to flour factory in 19th Century Denmark. It criticizes the linear and deterministic replacement narrative that dominates older literature. Instead it finds that two socio-technical production systems, small-scale wind- or waterpow...
Chapter
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This Chapter offers a comparative history of Danish and Dutch socio-technical system change in the dairy industry with focus on the 1880s and 1890s. Conclusions: (1) the notion of "national styles" in socio-technical system or Large Technical System development is problematic: the dairy sector in the Northern Netherlands followed quite a similar in...

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Projects

Projects (7)
Project
The research program "Global resources and sustainability of European modernization" (GREASE) argues that well-being and sustainability issues in Europe should not be studied in geographical isolation. Through global resource supply chains and other 'sustainability telecouplings', the histories of modernization, inequality, well-being and (un)sustainability in the Global North and the Global South became entangled. Through a series of workshops, GREASE builds a research network and research agenda to explore these entangled and connected histories. GREASE identifies and synthesizes relevant literatures, and connects these to ongoing policy and stakeholder debates on present-day well-being and sustainability challenges. [see https://www.tensionsofeurope.eu/global-resources-and-sustainability/ ]
Archived project
This Ph.D. project combined the analytical frameworks of Thomas P. Hughes (Large Technical Systems, LTS) and Wiebe E. Bijker (Social Construction of Technology, SCOT) in order to analyse sociotechnical system building and historical electricity infrastructure development as multi-actor, conflicted, and historically contingent (non-linear and non-teleological) processes. In particular, the project challenged existing scholarly work, which assumed a technological or economic 'soft determinism' towards ever larger-scale electricity supply systems. The project instead showed the social dynamics and actor choices at work.
Project
The project contributes historical perspectives to the booming field of sustainability transition studies.