Modern History: MG42 – on the histories of a machine gun

A while back I scandalized a polite conference of art historians and material culture folk by giving a paper about a machine gun, the MG42, complete with video clip gore. Since then, I’ve grown up a bit . The audio and powerpoint MG42 paper 2017 are a more mature version of the paper, which turns the critical thrust in a more introspective direction, asking why “mainstream” history struggles to take mundane, Nazi, killing machines more seriously. David Edgerton had some brilliant critiques of this paper. He convinced me that I had overplayed the Latourian point. We ought to be asking  not why such machines are absent in general, they actually aren’t, but why historical knowledge is folded in such ways as to make them invisible from certain key points.

I am putting this up not because it is the finished article, but  because people found the audio recording and I wanted to offer the slides to go with it. I want to put a marker down for future work. And I want to encourage the conversation.

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