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Place and Placelessness


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This online symposium is intended for graduate students and recently graduated scholars from all disciplines that seek to better understand the complex relationships between nature and culture, with particular attention paid to the theme of climate. The workshop attempts to replicate the collegiate atmosphere of a shared-space meeting by using a variety of internet tools, including WordPress, Skype, Google Maps, Youtube, Facebook and Twitter to share ideas and participate in engaged discussion. This model should appeal especially to those who are eager for academic gatherings without the cost or carbon footprint of in-person meetings. The workshop encourages participation from students across the humanities, social sciences and physical sciences in an attempt to facilitate trans-disciplinary and transnational dialogue for global issues such as anthropogenic climate change.

Although the expectation is that most submissions will come in the form of in-progress pieces of writing, the organizers welcome submissions of alternative multi-media projects that utilize online tools to stimulate arguments about our relationship with local, regional, and transnational environments. All interested presenters must submit a CV, as well as a 300 word abstract outlining their topic, what format their contribution will take, and how their paper or project aims to broaden, illustrate or complicate the notion of ‘climate’ by September 18th, 2012.

The theme of climate is loosely defined, and may include perspectives on:

  • governance and policy history
  • environmental history and industry/industrialization
  • histories of activism or environmentalism
  • global climates, international relations and geopolitics
  • historical climatology
  • histories of ecology, geology or geophysics
  • primary source documents in climate history
  • climate regions (such as arctic or tropical)
  • new digital climates and virtual communities

Walking the Commodity Chain: A Virtual Field Trip to Explore Automobility

Our field trip is focused on a common commodity–the automobile. The car is the product of, and the creator, of a far-reaching global trading chain that links our distant locales and intimately affects our lives. The car is so ubiquitous, however, that we sometimes forget to notice it and recognize its global span and presence.

In this field trip, we are going to mark and question that presence. Participants in the Place and Placelessness Virtual Environmental History Workshop will post images relating to the theme of automobiles as a common global commodity and geo-tag those images around the world. You can keep track of this collective digital field trip in our ongoing live slideshow and map. You can view the full album and map here.

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