Call for Papers – Interdisciplinary Panel on Extreme Environments at ASEH 2020

James Esposito's picture

Military operations encompassed the whole of the Earth by the early twentieth century. Exploration and colonization of tropical regions and arctic environments were only the most conventional manifestations of the new value placed on Earth’s extremes. Technological innovations first in steam transportation and then prophylaxis against tropical diseases like malaria and yellow fever in jungle environments made the globalization of military operations possible. The submarine and the airplane greatly expanded the verticality of military forces. Access and control of extreme environments provided new opportunities and new urgencies, bringing Earth’s extremes into operational calculation. New accessibility generated an equal and opposite reaction – the creation of militarized landscapes like minefields and chemically or radiologically contaminated areas designed purposely to immobilize, maim, or kill enemy forces.  The power of technology generated new purposes and imaginings for national military establishments, once confined to the considerations of battle on land and sea.

Our panel aims to open an interdisciplinary dialogue between environmental and military historians on the mobilization of Earth’s extremes as well as the partial demobilization of spaces rendered too perilous for human presence.

The panel at the American Society of Environmental History conference will be focusing on these themes:

  • Military operations in hostile environments (broadly defined - arctic, desert, tropical environments)
  • Military operations and exploration associated with deep ocean or aerial environments
  • Generation of new environments associated with military operations (minefields, radiologically, or chemically contaminated areas).

Seeking papers from graduate and early career scholars. Please send short proposals of 250 words to no later than July 7th 2019. Final submissions will be selected for approval by ASEH on July 12th 2019. The conference is scheduled for March 25-28th 2020 in Ottawa, Canada.