Edward Jones-Imhotep is a historian of modern science and technology. He has published on topics ranging from the history of music studios and of artificial life to space technologies and the technological geographies of islands. The focus of his research engages two broad themes: the changing historical boundaries between nature and technology; and the historical intersections of machines and ideas about the self. Instead of exploring those questions through working technologies, his work explores histories of technological failure — breakdowns, malfunctions, accidents — and what they reveal about the place of machines and the stakes of machine failures in the culture, politics, and economics of modern societies.
Professor Jones-Imhotep’s first book, (MIT Press), explored how technological failures shaped conceptions of hostile northern nature and of national identity in Cold War Canada. The book received the 2018 Sidney Edelstein Prize for best scholarly work in the history of technology. He is also the co-editor, with Tina Adcock, of (UBC Press), which examines the complex interconnections between science, technology, and modernity in Canada. His current book project — Unreliable Humans/Fallible Machines — is funded by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant and investigates how people from the late-18th to the mid-20th centuries saw machine failures as a problem of the self: a problem of the kinds of people that failing machines created, or threatened, or presupposed.
Professor Jones-Imhotep received his PhD in History of Science from Harvard University. From 2009-13, he served as Associate Director of York University’s Institute for Science and Technology Studies (iSTS). He is a co-founder of Toronto’s TechnoScience Salon, a public forum for humanities-based discussions about science and technology. He has held visiting positions at the Centre Alexandre Koyré and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), and he currently holds an ongoing visiting professorship at the University of Paris (Panthéon-Assas). He also serves on the Executive Council of the Society for the History of Technology. His research has been supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the National Science Foundation, the European Science Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Government of Canada, and the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD).