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From Hansa to Lufthansa: Transportation Technologies and the Mobility of Knowledge in Germanic Lands and Beyond, 1300–2018

How do you get from one end of the globe to the other, and then back? If your vehicle breaks down on the way, what do you do? These questions have been of paramount importance since humans have begun to migrate.

This new project is led by Mary Augusta Brazelton and Dániel Margócsy. Its first event is a conference hosted by the Department of History and Philosophy of Science on 23–24 May 2019, funded by the DAAD–University of Cambridge Research Hub.

The project explores the emergence and co-construction of transportation technologies and travel infrastructures from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. We uncover how transportation technologies themselves have been transferred across the globe. How were Dutch East Indiamen repaired and re-engineered in the colonial ports of 17th-century Cape Town or Batavia? And how did transcontinental flights from Berlin to Beijing come into existence in the 1930s?

The project will establish a network of historians of science, historians of slavery, geographers and historians of transportation who examine how knowledge, natural resources and people were mobilized and circulated across countries and continents to facilitate the establishment of global transportation networks, and how, in turn, these networks shaped the circulation of other types of natural knowledge.

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Grant funding

This project is supported by the DAAD–University of Cambridge Research Hub.