Sunday, October 02, 2011

The Luddites - without condescension

For anyone who (like me) was unaware of the conference on the Luddites that took place at Birkbeck College in May, the Backdoor Broadcasting Company has made podcasts of the sessions and discussions available online.

The one-day conference was held "to mark the 200th anniversary of the uprising of the handloom weavers in the dawn of the industrial revolution under the command of the mythic General Ludd. Even though the movement was sparked by skilled artisans, “luddite” has ever since been a byword for technophobes facing backwards and mindless rejection of progress. The conference will gather historians of luddism and others interested in what in 1800 was called “the machinery question”, to consider not only the historical luddites, urban and rural, but also contemporary movements of direct resistance, north and south, to capitalist modernization – for example, anti-nuclear movements, opposition to agricultural transgenics, resistance to big dams. The concluding session will address the issue of modernity itself, its model of temporality and the assumption that history is future-directed."

Contributers included Peter Linebaugh, T.J Clark,Iain Boal, Dave King, Esther Leslie and Anna Davin