Maintainers I: 2016

April 7-9, 2016 | Hoboken, NJ

Stevens Institute of Technology

Thursday, April 7

Opening Plenary: What is Maintenance & Why Does it Matter?

  • Scott Knowles, Drexel University
    “Maintenance Deferred: Slow Disaster and the Politics of Infrastructural Decay” [READ PAPER]
  • Zachary Pirtle, NASA
    “What Do Maintainers Know and How Do They Know It?: Insights from Exploration Systems Development”
  • Lara Houston, Cornell University
    “Unsettled repair tools: The death of the J.A.F. Box” [READ PAPER]
  • Daniel Kreiss, University of North Carolina
    “An Ethics of Care for Infrastructural Repair” [READ PAPER]


  • Ruth Schwartz Cowan, University of Pennsylvania
    “Maintaining Gender with Technology”

Post-Keynote Reception

Friday, April 8

Legacies of the Nineteenth Century / 8:45-10 am

  • Ann Greene, University of Pennsylvania
    “Success as ‘Failure’: Historians, Engineers, and Maintaining the Erie Canal” [READ PAPER]
  • Deepak Malghan, Indian Institute of Management
    “Two Cultures and the Efficiency Revolution: The Connected Histories of Innovation and Maintenance”
  • John Laurence Busch, Independent Scholar
    “Maintaining Innovators or Innovating Maintainers?: Revolutionaries vs. Reactionaries in the 19th Century Maritime World” [READ PAPER]
  • Nicholas O’Brien, Stevens Institute of Technology
    “The Trolley”

Theory, Method, Practice / 10:30-11:45 am

  • Ellen Foster, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    “Systems of Maintenance: Feminist Theory and Method” [READ PAPER]
  • Juris Milestone, Temple University
    “Anthropologist as Tribologist” [READ PAPER]
  • Padraig Murphy, Dublin City University
    “Reprising the Third Way: a Middling Proposal” [READ PAPER]
  • Matt Thomas, Kirkwood Community College
    “Against Innovative Scholarship: The Monastic, Benedict, and Wiseian Options”

Clones, Communists, Culture / 12-1:15 pm

  • Philip Scranton, Rutgers University
    “Fixing Holes in the Plan: Maintenance and Repair in Communist Europe, 1945-1970” [READ PAPER]
  • Lee Vinsel, Stevens Institute of Technology
    “The Stories We Tell, or, Mary Poppins, Maintainer” [READ PAPER]
  • Misha Rabinovich and Caitlin Foley, UMass Lowell
    “Maintenance Art and Extreme Sharing” [READ PAPER]

Break /  1:15-2:15 pm

People and Networks / 2:15-4:00 pm

  • Roger Turner, Dickinson College
    “Aviation Meteorology: How Flight Safety depends upon the Repetitious Production of Constantly Expiring Knowledge” [READ PAPER]
  • Heidi Voskuhl, University of Pennsylvania
    “The Politics of Maintenance: Electricity, Socialism, and John McClane’s Tireless Fight Against Evil” [READ PAPER]
  • Andrew Meade McGee, University of Virginia
    “The Computer Shop Around the Corner: Neighborhood PC Repair Businesses as Sites of Maintenance and Technological Dissemination”
  • Andrew Russell, Stevens Institute of Technology
    “Maintaining the Internet” [READ PAPER]
  • Nicholas Barron, University of New Mexico
    “Archival Maintenance in the American Southwest: Exploring the Coproduction of Anthropology and Settler Colonialism on the Ground” [READ PAPER]

Saturday, April 9

Maintenance in Motion / 8:45-10 am

  • Renee Blackburn, MIT
    “Maintaining the Future: The Boston Busing Crisis in the 1970s” [READ PAPER]
  • Matthew Hersch, Harvard University
    “Return, Repair, Refly: Spaceflight Strategies for a Resource-Limited Age” [READ PAPER]
  • Roger Launius, National Air and Space Museum
    “A Clash of Engineering Cultures? NASA Engineers, R&D Culture, and the Space Shuttle as an Operational System” [READ PAPER]
  • Jim Fleming, Colby College
    “Atmospheric Maintenance: Temporal and Spatial Considerations” [READ PAPER]

Maintaining the Digital / 10:30-11:45 am

  • Nathan Ensmenger, Indiana University
    “When Good Software Goes Bad: The Unexpected Durability of Digital Technologies”  [READ PAPER]
  • Stephanie Dick and Dan Volmar, Harvard University
    “GOTOHELL.DLL: Software Dependencies and the Maintenance of Microsoft Windows” [READ PAPER]
  • Greg Bloom, Open Referral
    “The Tragedy of the Directories: Towards the Maintenance of Community Resource Data as a Digital Public Good” [READ PAPER]
  • Bradley Fidler, UCLA
    “The Dependence of Cyberspace: Political and Technical Maintenance of Internet Resources”

Maintenance in Democracies / 12-1:15 pm

  • Alex Wellerstein, Stevens Institute of Technology
    “Maintaining the Bomb: The High Price and High Stakes of Keeping the Nuclear Weapons Complex Running” [READ PAPER]
  • Amy Slaton, Drexel University
    “Mere Maintenance: Stratified Industrial Labor and The Reproduction of Human Difference” [READ PAPER]
  • Patrick McCray, University of California Santa Barbara
    “Maintaining a Mountain of Magical Thinking” [READ PAPER]
  • Kevin Brown, Carnegie Mellon University
    “Environmental History and ‘Maintenance’: The Case of the Devils Hole Pupfish” [READ PAPER]

Break / 1:15-2:15 pm

Humanity and Bureaucracy / 2:15-3:30 pm

  • Fallon Aidoo, Harvard University
    “The Right to Work on Rights-of-Way in the Age of Deregulation” [READ PAPER]
  • Ellan Spero, MIT
    “‘A Card for Everything, Miss Whittle!’ – A Maintainer’s Approach to the Organization of Academic-Industrial Research at the Mellon Institute for Industrial Research” [READ PAPER]
  • Hugh Lester, Stevens Institute of Technology
    “Program Manager for Life” [READ PAPER]
  • Brandon Benevento, University of Connecticut
    “Shaping the Future: The Political-Economic Possibility of Maintenance” [READ PAPER]

The Enduring Industrial Age / 4-5:15 pm

  • Ann Johnson, Cornell University
    “Insurance as a Key Element in Risky Socio-technical Systems” [READ PAPER]
  • Dan Gregory, Common Capital
    “That New Car Smell: Social Innovation, Maintenance, and Civil Society” [READ PAPER]
  • Dan Holbrook, Marshall University
    “Discipline and Polish: On Wiping and Wipers” [READ PAPER]
  • Daniel Levinson Wilk, Fashion Institute of Technology
    “Hotel Maintenance Made Easy” [READ PAPER]