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HUMSS - Melanie Arndt

Melanie Arndt

University of Freiburg

The Warmth of Welfare. A History of Heat Supply in Europe and the USA since the 19th Century
When Jan 11, 2021
from 04:00 PM to 05:00 PM
Where Zoom-Meeting
Contact Name
Attendees universitätsoffen / open to university members
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The Warmth of Welfare. A History of Heat Supply in Europe and the USA since the 19th Century

Please note that this session of our HUMSS colloquium will start at 4pm by way of exception.

This talk will offer a glimpse into my workshop, where I am fine-tuning my new research project on the entanglement of the material, the social and the ecological, using the example of the harnessing of heat(ing) since the 19th century. In this project, I not only analyze central/district heating within the context of state-controlled welfare and increasing prosperity but also energy security and heating’s often unintended, long-term consequences for the environment. Resilience, understood as the capacity to deal with change, is key to understanding the tension between flexibility and stability in the development and perception of district heating. I argue that district heating was far more than a purely technological invention of late industrialization that supplied heat to several rooms, entire residential units or even entire districts more cheaply and effectively than ever before. It was more than just an infrastructure in the sense of a built network that allowed substances to circulate according to fixed rules. Focusing on the infrastructure of warmth allows us to link the material world – both natural and technical – with the social. The heating pipes not only provided ‘thermal’ but also ‘social’ warmth, social practices and values. Warming up social spaces, however, came at a cost – overheating the planet.