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Call for Papers: Symposium on the Global Histories of Natural Resources

Protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock (Photo: Pax Ahimsa Gethen, CC BY-SA 4.0)

“Sovereignty, Economy and the Global Histories of Natural Resources” is the topic of an international symposium at the University of Cambridge. The event is a cooperation between the Universities of Basel (Europainstitut), Heidelberg and Sydney. It takes place December 18-19, 2017, and is organized by Tehila Sasson. Scholars interested in presenting a paper can apply with an abstract until June 15.

Over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth century natural resources have given shape to the history of sovereignty, law, and commerce across the globe. The struggle to protect, own and extract natural resources has mobilized local authorities, national agencies and international bodies. The Standing Rock water protectors are perhaps the best known recent example of such histories, but is certainly not the only one. From disputes over social and economic rights to dueling religious and economic understandings of resources and their value, things like carbon, gold and water have determined the lives of national and local communities.

This international symposium invites scholars to examine the history and political ecology of various natural resources – animal, vegetable, or mineral —in the modern era. It asks how natural resources such as carbon, air, and water became the subject of legal, environmental, and economic forces over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth century and how, in turn, these resources have themselves come to shape national and international histories? Papers that focus on the role of local actors, rather than solely international elites, that examine contested spaces and resources beyond the Western Hemisphere, and take an interdisciplinary approach to this global history of natural resources will be particularly welcomed.

Potential papers might address (though should not be limited to) the ways in which the political ecology of various natural resources has come to shape:

  • Border disputes, international territories and national sovereignty
  • Minority and religious rights
  • Movement and mobility of people, animals and microbes
  • Social and economic geographies and spaces
  • Cultural practices and institutions
  • Technical expertise and knowledge
  • The role of nongovernmental and economic agents in local and national contexts

Scholars interested in presenting a paper at the symposium are invited to send a brief abstract of 250-300 words as well as a CV by 15 June 2017, to Tehila Sasson at naturalresourceshistory(at)gmail.com. While limited travel and accommodation support is available, presenters will be encouraged to explore their own funding opportunities.

The symposium “Sovereignty, Economy and the Global Histories of Natural Resources” takes place on December 18-19, 2017 at the the Centre for History and Economics of the University of Cambridge. It is organized by Tehila Sasson, Assistant Professor of History at Emory College. In 2016, she received the International Research Award for her proposal to organize this symposium.

Tehila Sasson
Email: naturalresourceshistory@gmail.com

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