Call for Proposals: The Material Realities of Energy Histories

Grove Lime & Coal Co., Library of Congress, LC-F82-10056-PP

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CJHThe Material Realities of Energy Histories
A Call for Proposals for a Special Issue of the Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d’histoire (CJH/ACH)

The appropriation and control of the flow of energy from the sun and stocks of energy stored beneath the surface of the Earth influenced changes to human societies in the past. Ideology, cultural norms, scientific knowledge, and technology informed how people used energy, and the use of energy transformed relationships between people, and between humans and the natural world. Over time, people devised more efficient ways of harnessing and directing energy, while at the same time breaking the constraints of older patterns of use by adopting new energy sources and fuels. And despite moments of scarcity or crisis, the scale of energy used by humans has always tended toward ever-greater amounts.

Energy history has grown considerably from a largely overlooked sub-field to an important and relevant line
of historical enquiry. Responding to the realization that human energy use has been directly responsible
for monumental social, cultural, political, economic, and environmental changes, such as industrialization, urbanization, global warming, and the onset of the Anthropocene, historians have begun to embrace the need to understand better how energy structured human societies.

The Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d’histoire is pleased to welcome abstracts of articles for a special issue on energy history. The proposed essays should explore topics that address the transnational dimensions and multiple scales of the material realities and environmental consequences of energy production, distribution, and consumption in any time period. Authors of accepted abstracts will be invited to submit full article manuscripts for double-blind peer review.

Possible themes may include, but are not limited to:

  • energy sources/fuels/commodities
  • energy networks/infrastructure
  • efforts to connect sites of energy production and consumption
  • industrialization, urbanization, transportation, resource development, agriculture
  • energy abundance/scarcity
  • energy justice/inequality
  • energy regimes/transitions
  • households/consumer culture
  • transformations of environment/landscape

Those interested should send a 250-300 word abstract by 2 June 2017 to the attention of guest editor Andrew Watson ( Invited authors will be asked to submit a full article manuscript for peer review by 15 September 2017.

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Andrew is Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan. His current research includes the history of sustainability and tourism on the Canadian Shield in Muskoka, Ontario; the environmental, social, and economic history of coal in Canada; and the role of energy in shaping agroecosystems on the Great Plains of the United States. His first book, Making Muskoka: Tourism, Rural Identity, and Sustainability, 1870-1920, was published in 2022 with UBC Press.

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