Peter Sachs Collopy


I am a historian of science, technology, and media, and a Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Digital Humanities Program at the University of Southern California, where I’m also affiliated with the Department of History, the Visual Studies Research Institute, and the Society of Fellows in the Humanities. Beginning May 15, I will be University Archivist and Head of Special Collections at the California Institute of Technology Archives. I am also the web editor of the History of Anthropology Newsletter.

My research brings together the histories of science, technology, media, and the social movements that have made use of them, particularly in the context of the Cold War. My current project concerns how artists, scientists, and political activists used the new technology of videotape in the 1960s and 1970s, interpreting it as both a political weapon and a medium of collective human consciousness. It places this countercultural effervescence in a transnational history in which American occupations at the end of World War II facilitated the transfer of magnetic tape recording first from Germany to California and then to Japan. I also set contemporary digital media within this historical trajectory, demonstrating how ideas about the ethereality and democratizing power of electronic media emerged from engagements with earlier magnetic recording technologies and with an intellectual tradition of conceptualizing consciousness as communal rather than individual that extended from Henri Bergson to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Marshall McLuhan, Aldous Huxley, and Gregory Bateson.

My other research interests include the histories of experiential education, personal computing, theistic evolutionism, and scientific racism and antiracism. I also have a decade of experience in the governance of cooperative businesses, and bring my interests in participatory democracy and solidarity economies to my research and teaching.

Twitter @collopy
Medium @collopy
Skype petercollopy
Mail Social Sciences Building 153
3502 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0007
Society for Cinema and Media Studies*
Chicago, March 22–26
Maintainers II*
Stevens Institute of Technology, April 6–9
Digital Materialities
University of Southern California, April 14
Society of California Archivists
Pasadena, April 27–29
History of Science Colloquium*
UCLA, May 8
Signal Culture
June 1–8