New Scholars November Update

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Now recruiting! Graduate students, post-docs, and emerging scholars interested in northern history for our November NiCHE New Scholars discussion.

As the air grows colder and the nights grow longer, we’re turning our attention north! Michael Clemens will lead the talk – Clemens’ doctorate research addresses representations of northern science and nature in Canada’s National Film Board documentaries. We’re looking for new and emerging scholars to help us address questions like:

1) Stories about the north are typically authored by southerners. How can environmental histories of the north incorporate “northern” voices into its historiography? What new avenues of research might these perspectives create?

2) How does the Canadian experience of the North compare to other northern states?

3) What is the relationship between northern history and Environmental History as a whole? Can we imagine the two as separate? How does northern history inform/complicate major debates in the field?

4) How can historians of the north use their scholarship to shape, or at least inform contemporary debates about environmental change?

Some suggested primers:

  1. Stephen Bocking’s “Science and Space in the Northern Environment,” in Environmental History 12 (October, 2007)
  2. John Sandlos “From the Outside Looking In: Aesthetics, Politics, and Wilderness Conservation in the Canadian North,” in Env. History 6 (January 2001)
  3. Shelagh Grant “Arctic Wilderness – and other mythologies,” in Journal of Canadian Studies 32 no. 2 (1998).

Details:

Date: Tuesday November 22nd, at 1pm EST

Place: Google hangouts.

This will be the last NiCHE New Scholars get together of 2016. Don’t miss out! Contact me (jorgenma@mcmaster.ca) to get added to the event.


October Summary: New Directions in Parks History

Anne Janhunen led a lively parks discussion last month. Participants were: Anne Janhunen, Mica Jorgenson, Michael O’Hagan and Jessica DeWitt.

The group highlighted the importance of social history for parks scholars, and brainstormed ‘non-traditional’ sources to open doors for future research. These included: Crowd-sourcing as way of collecting people’s memories of parks, and accessing the knowledge/work produced by (largely unstudied) volunteer organizations.

We also talked about how to get beyond an emphasis on park ‘origin stories.’ Emphasis on origin stories stems from the types of sources parks historians access, and participants talked about how diversifying our sources might give us a better idea of how people used parks, not just how they were created. People did not always engage with their parks as intended, and the unplanned side of parks history is often the most revealing! We talked about the potential of focusing on the peripheries of parks (ie. looking at the edges of park boundaries) as a way of accessing new narratives about parks’ pasts.

Our discussion ended on the challenges of parks research. A lot of our parks projects are large transnational or comparative studies – this kind of scale makes understanding local/detailed contexts difficult to understand. We find ourselves struggling to tell new park stories while doing justice to the staggering diversity of existing policies and management regimes. Accessing park documents also persists as a problem due to the wide variation between ownership, access, and storage/condition of archival documents. Furthermore, parks historians face uneven interest/support from park organisations in North America. We returned here to the idea of volunteer organisations, this time as potential gatekeepers to new types of primary evidence on parks.

Thanks to all participants!

 

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Mica Jorgenson

PhD Candidate at McMaster University
I am a PhD Candidate at McMaster University studying global gold mining, industrialisation, and landscape change. My dissertation uses the Porcupine gold rush in Northern Ontario as a case study for the ways that international forces can shape human relationships with a local environment. Twitter: @mica_amy

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