Jenny Bulstrode

Jenny Bulstrode is Lecturer in History of Science and Technology, Department of Science & Technology Studies, University College London.

Before joining UCL in July 2020, Jenny began a Jesus College Junior Research Fellowship in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, carrying out postdoctoral research on the industrial origins of climate change with a particular focus on globalisation and the displacement of Indigenous industries and sustainable practices. During her AHRC-funded doctoral research, she held both Caird and Sackler research fellowships, respectively considering cultural and technical histories of metal. Awards for her published work include: a 2020 International Committee for the History of Science and Technology Daumas Prize; the 2018 American Academy of Arts and Sciences Sarton Prize (only awarded in the event of a suitable candidate, last awarded in 2012) and the 2014 British Society for the History of Science Singer Prize.

Jenny uses an interdisciplinary combination of archival research, oral traditions, tacit skills and material science to research histories of material practices and how those practices shape differing ways of knowing the world. Her work seeks to foreground and centre histories of marginalised sciences, both for their importance to dominant traditions in the physical sciences and on their own terms. For an example of this approach, focusing on Black skill and innovation in iron-working in Africa and 18th Century Jamaica, see 'Black metallurgists and the making of the industrial revolution'. For an example of this approach using the study of skill with copper to reframe canonical history of physics with Indigenous cosmo-politics, see 'The face of a metal and the skin of a bomb'.

Current interests include coal skill, metallurgy, and technologies of the dispossessed. More generally, Jenny is interested in historical perspectives on social justice issues in climate science; energy; global supply chains; automation; geospatial mapping; and mineral prospecting and extraction.

She has worked on a number of experimental reconstruction and analysis projects, winning grant funding to lead technical and archival research into innovation in elastic glass for precision timepieces, (‘Riotous assemblage and the materials of regulation’, awarded a 2020 Daumas Prize) and the importance of whaling lore to geomagnetic instrumentation and survey (‘Cetacean citations and the covenant of iron’, as well as the opportunity to work with artist and archaeometallurgist, Andrew Lacey, to reverse-engineer bronzes recently attributed to Michelangelo. In 2014, her research into flints and paper in the industrial origins of experimental archaeology won the British Society for the History of Science Singer Prize (‘The industrial archaeology of deep time’). During her doctoral research at the University of Cambridge and Greenwich National Maritime Museum, Jenny was employed by the Polar Museum to research their ethnographic Arctic collection; and by the Whipple Museum to edit, update and contribute an introduction to Anita McConnell’s Survey of the networks bringing a knowledge of optical glass-working to the London trade, 1500-1800.

For her work with artists, expert practitioners, engineers, and material scientists, Jenny was listed one of Apollo Magazine’s 'top ten thinkers in Art and Tech' in 2020. She is a member of UCL Anthropocene; gloknos: Centre for Global Knowledge Studies; and the Centre for the Anthropology of Technics and Technodiversity.

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