Journal of Transport History, Special Issue
In 1844 William Wordsworth wrote passionately about a railway that was desecrating the tranquility of the English Lake District, if not setting fire to woodland and dividing ancient fields and ecologies. Across the Atlantic in the same century, Henry Thoreau expressed gratitude that people could not yet fly “and lay waste the sky as well as the earth”.
‘Conquest’, defilement and intrusion have been labels since pinned on many transport investments and mass traveling. Deforestation, air pollution, oil spills, noise, landscape leveling, water table lowering, and habitat change have all been associated with environmentally blind infrastructure expansion and mobility in the past. Conversely, there have been transport projects linked with landscape beautification, and mobility may be said to have increased appreciation of the sanctity and fragility of wilderness. Some environmental activism has been directed at transport projects. Historians of transport and mobility as well as environmental historians have dealt with these issues, but more research is needed.
We invite scholarly contributions that examine the historical relationship between transport and mobility and the natural environment for a proposed Special Issue of the Journal of Transport History scheduled for December 2014 (vol 35 ). Contributions may be substantial library and archive-based research essays of 8,000 words (including endnotes and Abstract), or shorter pieces (1,500 words) for the Journal’s ‘Surveys & Speculations’ and its ‘Exhibitions & Museum Reviews’ sections.
In existence for over 50 years, The Journal of Transport History publishes scholarly research and commentary on the history of transport, travel, tourism and mobility, including their relationship with planning and policy.
The Special Issue will be guest edited Thomas Zeller, author of Driving Germany: the Landscape of the German Autobahn, 1930-1970 (2007). Together with JTH editor Gordon Pirie, he will select papers based on their originality and scholarly rigour, but will also strive for broad coverage of periods, themes, continents and transport modes. Papers will be subject to a double-blind review process. Conceptually progressive research is especially encouraged. A second call will be made in June 2013. Prospective authors should contact Thomas Zeller (email@example.com) and Gordon Pirie (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Final submissions for the JTH Special Environmental Issue should be lodged by 5 August 2013. More detail about the JTH, and back issues, are online at http://manchester.metapress.com/content/122747.
Tags: Publications · Various Announcements
Hugh Gorman’s The Story of N: A Social History of the Nitrogen Cycle and the Challenge of Sustainability examines the process by which humans, first, learned to bypass an important ecological constraint and, second, are learning to address concerns associated with having done so.
The ecological constraint, which existed up to the early twentieth century, involves a limit on the capacity of nitrogen-fixing bacteria to place nitrogen compounds into circulation. Given that protein is about sixteen percent nitrogen, this constraint translated into a limit on how much food and fiber could be produced by agricultural societies and, ultimately, on the size of cities. Indeed, by the nineteenth century, the demand for nitrogen compounds in Western Europe, not only for food and fiber but also for explosives, had exceeded the capacity of bacteria to supply what was needed. Imports of nitrogen (in the form of food, cotton, and material such as Peruvian guano) helped, but scientists and national leaders realized that flows of this material could be interrupted by war. They, and the late-nineteenth century scientists who informed them, spoke of an impending nitrogen crisis.
The introduction in 1913 of the Haber-Bosch process for converting inert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia freed humans from their dependency on nitrogen-fixing bacteria and put an end to the nineteenth-century nitrogen crisis. However, this innovation (and the unintentional fixing of nitrogen through combustion processes) had consequences. Today, societies fix nitrogen on the same scale as the world’s bacteria, resulting in (from a human perspective) too much nitrogen entering circulation rather than too little. The second half of the The Story of N examines the process of societies learning to address these concerns. It suggests that the notion of sustainability involves, at least in part, in societies adaptively learning to establish limits when innovations push them into uncharted ethical territory.
Please visit www.storyofn.com.
Tags: Member news · Publications
November 12th, 2012 · Comments Off
Envirotech is pleased to announce a travel grant award for the 2013 ASEH conference to support scholars presenting on topics that combine the history of the environment with the history of technology.
Envirotech will offer one $250 travel grant to the 2013 ASEH meeting in Toronto (3-6 April 2013). Eligibility is restricted to those presenting a paper at the conference that addresses environmental and technological history. Those who have completed their degrees more than three years prior and are fully employed are not eligible. Preference will be given to graduate students, first-time presenters, and independent scholars. International perspectives are especially welcome. The winner will be presented with a $250 check at the conference and will be invited to attend the group’s breakfast meeting free of charge.
To apply, applicants should download and fill in the brief application form. Completed applications, including a C.V., should be emailed to TravelGrant@envirotechweb.org and must be received by January 3, 2013.
Any questions should be emailed to Chair, Envirotech Travel Grant Committee at TravelGrant@envirotechweb.org.
September 2nd, 2012 · Comments Off
Envirotech, a dynamic interest group within the Society for the History of Technology and the American Society for Environmental History, invites nominations for the 2013 Joel A. Tarr Envirotech Article Prize. The Tarr Prize recognizes the best article published in either a journal or article collection on the relationship between technology and the environment in history. The prize committee is particularly seeking innovative publications that explore new ways of thinking about the interplay between technological systems and the natural environment. Articles originally published in any language are welcome, but applicants must provide a translation of non-English articles. To be eligible for the 2013 prize, the article must be published between June 15, 2011, and October 31, 2012.
The Tarr Prize carries a cash award of $250 and will be conferred at the American Society for Environmental History conference in Toronto, Ontario, April 3-6, 2013.
Send one copy of your article and a brief curriculum vitae (one page Word or PDF files only please) to email@example.com to be considered. The deadline for submissions is November 15, 2012.
The Doctoral Program in History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania is pleased to be hosting WHEATS in 2013. Now in its ninth year, the Workshop for the History of Environment, Agriculture, Technology, and Science (WHEATS) brings together graduate students studying topics contained under this heading. The Workshop will take place March 15 through March 17, 2013. WHEATS welcomes submissions from any discipline that engages with these fields.
Pre-circulated papers of 25-30 pages will be discussed by participants and senior scholars in roundtable format. This arrangement is well-suited for works in progress, and the workshop will have sessions on professional development as well as opportunities to meet and interact with members of a larger Philadelphia area scholarly community working in relevant fields.
Potential participants should visit the website linked below to submit a brief abstract (200 words) and a short curriculum vitae by August 1, 2012. Accepted papers will be due February 1, 2013.
To submit a proposal, please visit:
For further information, visit:
Contact the organizers at:
wheats2013 at sas.upenn.edu
May 28th, 2012 · Comments Off
The Envirotech Interest Group is pleased to announce a $400 travel grant for the upcoming SHOT conference in Copenhagen. Eligibility for the award is limited to those presenting a paper addressing the interrelated histories of environment and technology at the 2012 SHOT meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark (October 4–7, 2012). Those who have completed their Ph.D. more than three years prior and are fully employed are not eligible. Independent scholars are eligible regardless of the date the Ph.D. was received. This application must be received by June 30, 2012. The winner will receive a check for $400 at the Envirotech meeting during the conference.
Applicants should complete this form (EnvirotechTravelGrantAppplication_SHOT2012), and email it along with their C.V. to TravelGrant@envirotechweb.org. Any questions should be addressed to Chair, Envirotech Travel Grant, and submitted by email to TravelGrant@envirotechweb.org.
Tags: Conferences · Organization
The Society for the History of Technology will hold its annual meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark from 4-7 October at the Copenhagen Business School. The Program Committee invites paper and panel proposals on any topic in the history of technology, broadly defined. The Committee welcomes proposals for individual papers or sessions, as well as works-in-progress from researchers at all levels (including graduate students, chaired professors, and independent scholars). It welcomes proposals from those new to SHOT, regardless of discipline. Multinational, international, and cross-institutional sessions are particularly encouraged. We especially encourage proposals from non-Western and Eastern-European scholars. Since this is a non-North American meeting, the Program Committee will permit scholars who presented at the 2011 Cleveland meeting to give papers in Copenhagen. It is SHOT’s policy to relax its rule about not presenting papers at two consecutive meetings in order to attract as many people as possible to meetings outside of North America.
For the 2012 meeting the Program Committee continues to welcome unconventional sessions; that is, session formats that diverge in useful ways from the typical three/four papers with comment. These might include round-table sessions, workshop-style sessions with papers that are pre-circulated electronically, or “author meets critics” sessions. We also welcome poster proposals for presentation in poster sessions.
THE DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS IS 31 MARCH 2012.
DETAILED SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS WILL BE AVAILABLE BY 13 FEBRUARY 2012.
While paper and session proposals on all topics are welcome, the Program Committee is especially interested in proposals that engage the following themes:
SHOT 2012 SPECIAL THEMES
I. Technology, sustainability, and environment.
SHOT has a long history of analyzing how technologies have interfered with or shaped nature and our social or cultural environments. The search for sustainable technology solutions has recently become a main preoccupation of engineers, designers and tinkerers all over the world and is high on the political agenda too. Possible themes to address are:
- Questions of scale: onsite, small- and community-scale technology as challenges for large-scale and centralized models of technology design, both in rural and new urban environments
- Smart design: ecodesign and sustainable industrial or product design as evidence of smart solutions for an accountable handling of technology
- Natural infrastructures: infrastructures as “natural” environments and nature (air, water, soil) as co-producers of large-scale infrastructures
- More with less: new technologies and the search for efficiency in energy consumption or technologies of power saving in housing, transport, and communication
II. Technology, East-West relations, and the Cold War.
During the Cold War, Europe was one of the central laboratories for experimentation with ideological and political regimes, which deeply affected traditional paths of knowledge and technology transfer in Europe. While the history of the Cold War has mainly been told as a history of discontinuity and fragmentation, we would especially welcome papers and sections dealing with examples of successful co-operation or “hidden continuities” in inter-European technology transfer during the 20th century. General areas to be explored are:
- Changing times: continuities and discontinuities in the transfers of knowledge and technology between Eastern and Western Europe and the rest of the world from the mid-19th century to the present
- Negotiating identities: spaces and places of co-operation or confrontation before, during, and after the Cold War
- Blurred boundaries: spill-over effects and holes in the Iron Curtain
- Trading zone: Europe as symbolic battlefield and diplomatic playground for world hegemony
- Chilling effects: Technologies at war & wartime technology
- Secret stories: technologies of intelligence and espionage and their staging in popular media (comics, films, magazines, television & radio)
- Competing Modernities: the uses of technology in a variety of economic development and modernization schemes
Evaluation Criteria, General Ground Rules, and Specific Requirements for Individual Paper Proposals and Session Proposals
The Program Committee’s highest priority in evaluating paper and panel proposals is scholarly excellence.
General ground rules: SHOT rules exclude multiple submissions (i.e., submitting more than one individual paper proposal, or proposing both an individual paper and a paper as part of a session). However, scholars may both propose a paper and serve as a commentator or session chair.
Proposals for individual papers must include:
1. a one-page abstract (maximum 600 words)
2. a one-page curriculum vitae, including current postal and e-mail addresses
Proposals for complete sessions must include:
1. a description of the session that explains how individual papers contribute to an overall theme (300 words max)
2. the names and paper titles of the presenters
3. for each presenter, a one-page summary (maximum 600 words) of the paper’s topic, argument(s), and evidence used
4. for the commentator, chair, and each presenter: one-page c.v., with postal and e-mail addresses
* Please note that in general we discourage panels with more than three papers.
**Please indicate if a proposal is sponsored by one of SHOT’s special interest groups.
DETAILED SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS WILL BE AVAILABLE BY 13 FEBRUARY 2012.
For more information about the Society for the History of Technology and our annual meeting, please see the SHOT webpage: http://www.historyoftechnology.org/.
For general questions about the Society for the History of Technology, please contact SHOT Secretary Bernie Carlson at SHOTSecy@virginia.edu.
December 11th, 2011 · Comments Off
Envirotech is pleased to announce a $250 travel grant for the upcoming American Society for Environmental History conference in Madison. Eligibility for the award is limited to those presenting a paper addressing the interrelated histories of environment and technology at the 2012 ASEH meeting in Madison, WI (March 28-31, 2012). Those who have completed their Ph.D. more than three years prior and are fully employed are not eligible. Independent scholars are eligible regardless of the date the Ph.D. was received. This application must be received by January 15, 2012. The winner will receive a check for $250 at the Envirotech breakfast meeting during the conference.
Applicants should complete this form, and email it along with their C.V. to TravelGrant@envirotechweb.org. Any questions should be addressed to Chair, Envirotech Travel Grant, and submitted by email to TravelGrant@envirotechweb.org.
September 26th, 2011 · Comments Off
We are pleased to announce that Christopher F. Jones is the winner of the 2011 Joel A. Tarr Envirotech Prize for his article, “A Landscape of Energy Abundance: Anthracite Coal Canals and the Roots of American Fossil Fuel Dependence, 1820-1860,” Environmental History 15 (July 2010): 449-484. In his article, Jones uses the concept of an “energy landscape” as an effective new tool for visualizing the causes and consequences of society’s energy choices, as well as the contingencies that inform the process of energy change. Drawing upon but also extending the seminal work of William Cronon and James Scott, Jones demonstrates that entrepreneurs, boosters, and other modernists built a new transportation-based energy regime in advance of market demand. By transforming the built environment and aggressively encouraging consumers to adopt anthracite coal, Jones argues, this regime helped to foster the subsequent and ultimately unsustainable American shift to fossil fuel sources that has continued to this day. Prize committee members applauded Jones for his skillful fusing of a detailed empirical analysis of the American Mid-Atlantic region with the broader theoretical concept of “energy landscapes.” Jones also breaks new ground in incorporating the spatial issue of transportation networks into our understanding of energy systems. By offering a fresh approach to dealing with the complex interactions between cultural, economic, technological, and ecological factors, Jones makes an important contribution to the field of envirotechnical history and theory.
On the behalf of the prize committee:
Tags: Member news · Organization
Finn Arne Jørgensen‘s book Making A Green Machine: The Infrastructure of Beverage Container Recycling is out!
Consider an empty bottle or can, one of the hundreds of billions of beverage containers that are discarded worldwide every year. Empty containers have been at the center of intense political controversies, technological innovation processes, and the modern environmental movement. Making a Green Machine examines the development of the Scandinavian beverage container deposit-refund system, which has the highest return rates in the world, from 1970 to present. Finn Arne Jørgensen investigates the challenges the system faced when exported internationally and explores the critical role of technological infrastructures and consumer convenience in modern recycling. His comparative framework charts the complex network of business and political actors involved in the development of the reverse vending machine (RVM) and bottle deposit legislation to better understand the different historical trajectories empty beverage containers have taken across markets, including the U.S. The RVM has served as more than a hole in the wall–it began simply as a tool for grocers who had to handle empty refillable glass bottles, but has become a green machine to redeem the empty beverage container, helping both business and consumers participate in environmental actions.
Visit the book’s page at Rutgers University Press:
Tags: Member news · Publications