2022 Gordon Cain Conference

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Let’s Get to Work: Bringing Labor History and the History of Science Together

Thursday, June 2, 2022–Saturday, June 4, 2022
Science History Institute

315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

From the labor in the laboratory to the science in scientific management, the histories of labor and science are marked by intimate connections—many of which still await reflection and historical analysis. To provide a forum for productive conversation between labor historians and historians of science and to help address the pressing scholarly and political questions they share, the Science History Institute’s 2022 Gordon Cain Conference will explore the entanglements of science and labor as they have emerged around the globe between the 16th century and today.


  • Thursday, June 2, 2022
    2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Friday, June 3, 2022
    8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 4, 2022
    8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.


Register to Attend

Conference Organizers

Alexandra (Alix) Hui is a historian of science specializing in the history and psychophysics of sound, and especially of sound studies in 19th- and 20th-century Germany. Among her publications are The Psychophysical Ear: Musical Experiments, Experimental Sounds, 1840–1910 and the coedited volume, Testing Hearing: The Making of Modern Aurality. She is an associate professor of history at Mississippi State University and coeditor in chief of Isis.

Lissa L. Roberts is editor in chief of History of Science and emeritus professor of history of science and technology in global context at University of Twente. Her many publications include Compound Histories: Materials, Governance and Production, 1760–1840 (with Simon Werrett); Centers and Cycles of Accumulation in and around the Netherlands; The Brokered World: Go-Betweens and Global Intelligence, 1770–1820 (with Simon Schaffer, Kapil Raj, and James Delbourgo); and The Mindful Hand: Inquiry and Invention from the Late Renaissance to Early Industrialization (with Simon Schaffer and Peter Dear).

Seth Rockman is an associate professor of history at Brown University. His book Scraping By: Wage Labor, Slavery, and Survival in Early Baltimore won multiple prizes including the Philip Taft Labor History Book Award. Rockman also coedited (with Sven Beckert) Slavery’s Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development. Rockman has been a fellow at re:work, a global labor history research institute in Berlin, and currently serves on the editorial committee of Labor: Studies in Working-Class History.

More Information

Please send all inquiries to laborandscience@sciencehistory.org.

About the Gordon Cain Conference

The Gordon Cain Conference is a gathering of scholars in the history of science and related fields. Each conference is organized by an eminent scholar who worked with staff to develop a theme of broad contemporary relevance. Centered on a topic chosen by the conference organizer, the conference consists of an evening public lecture, a symposium, and a collected volume. It is hosted by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry and supported by a generous gift from Gordon Cain.

Image: Call to Revolution and Table of Universal Brotherhood (Science, Labor and Art) by José Clemente Orozco (1930–1931)
Past Conferences, 1998−2018


Where to Put It All? Some Thoughts about Collections, Museums, and History
Organized by Steven Conn, Miami University


Chemistry in the Americas, 1500–1800
Organized by John Christie, University of Oxford, and Carin Berkowitz, Science History Institute

My Data, My Self: A Century of Self-Tracking Health Technologies
Organized by Deanna Day, Amanda L. Mahoney, and Ramya M. Rajagopalan, Science History Institute


Life in the Universe: Past and Present
Organized by David DeVorkin, National Air and Space Museum


Curators, Popularizers, and Showmen: Science in Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Exhibitions and Museums
Organized by Bernard Lightman, York University


Chemical Reactions: Chemistry and Global History
Organized by Lissa Roberts, University of Twente


Sensing Change: Environmental Issues in Art and Science
Organized by Dehlia Hannah, Arizona State University


E pluribus unum: Bringing Biological Parts and Wholes into Philosophical Perspective
Organized by Lynn Nyhart, University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Scott Lidgard, Field Museum of Natural History


Chemical Weather and Chemical Climate: Body, Place, Planet in Historical Perspective
Organized by Jim Fleming, Colby College
Request the collected volume.


Personalizing Medicine Here and Now: Empirical Studies of Post-Genomic Medicine
Organized by Alberto Cambrosio, McGill University


Technology Transfer and Diffusion in Comparative Perspective
Organized by Bruce Seely, Michigan Technological University


The Dilemma of Dual Use
Organized by Roy MacLeod, University of Sydney


New Chemical Bodies
Organized by Jody A. Roberts, Science History Institute
Request the whitepaper.


Towards a History and Philosophy of Expertise
Organized by Christopher Hamlin, University of Notre Dame


Nano before There Was Nano: Historical Perspectives on the Constituent Communities of Nanotechnology
Organized by Cyrus C. M. Mody, Cornell University


City, Industry, and Environment in Transatlantic Perspective
Organized by Donna Rilling, State University of New York at Stony Brook


Risk and Safety in Medical Innovation
Organized by Arthur Daemmrich, Cornell University


Industry and Governance: Changing Relations among Science-Based Corporations, Government, and the Public
Organized by Arthur Daemmrich, Cornell University


The Chemical Industry and the Environment
Organized by Christian W. Simon, University of Basel, Switzerland


Pharmaceutical Innovation: Revolutionizing Human Health
Organized by David B. Sicilia, University of Maryland


The Twentieth-Century American Chemical Industry
Organized by Stephen B. Adams, Lucent Technologies