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José Soto-Vejar


X: @Jose_Soto_V

foto fundacion[11].jpeg

PhD title: The infrastructure of Knowledge: Experts and Laypeople During the Electrification Process in Chile (1925 – 2010)


In recent years, the history of electrification has studied new actors and topics through diverse methodologies. There are calls for more attention to Global South countries and the study of actors and networks involved in electrification processes within this historiography. In addition, literature about expertise shows that experts co-produce knowledge with non-experts in a contingent relationship that tries to stabilise experts’ and the laity’s knowledge. This proposal projects to research how electrical infrastructure stabilised the relationship between experts’ and laypeople’s knowledge in the electrification process of Chile between 1925 and 2010. Applying the STS research on expertise and the Actor-Network Theory, this proposal will explore the grid and power plants where experts’ and laypeople’s knowledge interconnect, in a relationship in which human and material agencies are displayed. This work will enhance our understanding of Global South electrification, especially about the wide range of actors involved.

1st Supervisor: Prof. David Edgerton

2nd Supervisor: Dr. Christine Mathias


I obtained a bachelor’s degree in History from the Universidad de Chile in 2017 and made an specialisation through an MA in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine within the University of Leeds in 2019–2020. My main interest has been the history of electrification in Latin America and specifically in Chile. Along with this, I have been interested in the role of objects during this process and, recently, in the dynamic relationship between experts and laypeople as a focus to understand construction process of the grid.

From my undergraduate studies onward, I have been involved in some research projects related to history of science and technology in general, I helped to create the Laboratory of History of Science, Technology and Society of Chile in 2016, an academic network that gathers researchers of this field. I have also been assistant teacher in some modules of different universities that were related to history of Latin America, history of science and technology, and environmental history.

Also, I worked recently for the foundation Rumbo Colectivo, in a project aimed to track and analyse the recent constitutional process in Chile from a historical perspective. There, I also made brief reports that could highlight the ongoing problems of incorporating participatory initiatives within the recent process to replace the dictatorship’s Constitution of Chile.


Co-author with Carlos Sanhueza. “El problema eléctrico chileno. Un estudio de caso de controversia sociotécnica (1935 – 1939)”, in Revista Athenea Digital, Vol. 20, N° 3, November 2020 .


Co-author with Carlos Sanhueza, Lorena Valderrama and Stefan Meier. “Todos los instrumentos están en buen estado. Disputas en torno al funcionamiento de los telescopios del Observatorio Astronómico Nacional de Chile en el siglo XIX”, in Asclepio, Vol. 72, N° 1, 2020


Papers Given:

“Hughes’ categories limits in a peripheric country: Chile, 1935 – 1939”, British Society for the History of Science (BSHS) Global Digital History of Science Festival, online, July 2020.


“State and Market: debates of the electrification’s Chilean plan in the building of hydroelectric plants”, V Encuentro Internacional de Ciencias Sociales y Represas Medioambiente, Represas y Cultura, Universidad de Santiago de Chile (Santiago), September 2018. 

“‘All instruments are in good condition’. Technical appropriation and circulation of instruments at the National Astronomical Observatory of Chile (1886-1887)” with Carlos Sanhueza, Lorena Valderrama and Stefan Meier, XII Jornadas ESOCITE, Campus Juan Gómez Millas (Santiago), July 2018. 

Territory, State and Market: social-technical controversies around the building of the Sauzal and Abanico power plants (1939 – 1943), V Encuentro de la Red CTS Chile, Curicó, January 2018. 

Hydro-electric Network: materiality in three power plants of the electrification plan of Chile (1935 – 1943), Permanent Seminar of Historical Researching, Historical Sciences Department, Universidad de Chile (Santiago), July 2017.

The Chilean “electric problem”. A social-technical controversy, IV Encuentro de la Red CTS Chile, Valdivia, January 2017 

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