Dr. Michael Homberg has studied Modern and Medieval History, German Philology and Political Sciences at the University of Cologne, Germany. There he recently worked as an Assistant Professor/Wiss. MA of Modern and Contemporary History. Before that, he was part of the interdisciplinary research group "Transformations of Knowledge" at the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School of the Humanities Cologne. He was granted scholarships from the Cusanuswerk, the Max Weber Stiftung and the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung. His dissertation "Reporter Streifzüge. Metropolitane Nachrichtenkultur und die Wahrnehmung der Welt, 1870-1918" was nominated for the shortlist of the "Best Newcomer Publications of the Year" by the Volkswagen Foundation in 2017. He has been recently awarded the Offermann-Hergarten-Prize. At Stanford, he is a Visiting Postdoctoral Scholar at the Division of Literatures, Cultures and Languages. As a Feodor Lynen-Research Fellow he currently works in the field of German Studies and Contemporary History.
Man | Microchip. A Global Labour History of Working in Early Computer Industries, 1960s to 1990s.
My research project explores the history of working migration and “innovation cultures” in the early computer industries in Europe, the United States and India from the 1960s to the 1990s. Focusing on the discourse of innovation cultures, high-tech regions and the technological “race” between Western Europe, the US and Asia, I will examine the diverse concepts of science and technology policies and the attempts of “planning” innovation during the formative years of computer industries. Rebalancing technology politics, the industrialized countries enforced the computerization in developing countries and boosted the information technology diffusion across the global South. Thus, with a special regard to the role of the new IT professionals, I aim to tell computing history as an entangled history. Facing the US-American transfers of equipment, personnel and knowledge to Europe and Asia in the 1960s and 1970s – as well as the increasing influence of a growing Indian software industry on global IT-markets since the late 1980s – my research tries to combine social and science history approaches in order to analyze the working conditions of “engineers”, “programmers” and “experts” as “digital workers”. Their visions of advanced industrial “work” and their ideas and practices of entrepreneurship appear to be linked to certain paradigms of counterculture. With that, the Silicon Valley, as the epicenter of the “digital revolution”, will be of a particular relevance. The study promises to be a contribution to the history of computing – based on interviews and archival sources in Europe, the USA and India.