Envirotech 2017 ASEH Travel Grant

The Envirotech Special Interest Group is pleased to announce the Joy Parr Travel Grant for the upcoming 2017 American Society for Environmental History conference. Eligibility for the award is limited to those presenting a paper addressing the interrelated histories of environment and technology at the ASEH meeting in Chicago March 29 – April 2, 2017. The grant is available to current graduate students, recent Ph.D.s (earned within three years), and independent scholars. The application is due by Wednesday, March 15, 2017. The winner will receive a check for $400 at the Envirotech breakfast meeting during the conference.

Applicants should complete the attached questionnaire and email it along with a one or two page C.V. to envirotechtravelaward@gmail.com. Any questions should be addressed to Kellen Backer and submitted by email to envirotechtravelaward@gmail.com.

Application form.

Envirotech 2016 ASEH Travel Grant

The Envirotech Special Interest Group is pleased to announce a $400 travel grant for the upcoming 2016 American Society for Environmental History conference. Eligibility for the award is limited to those presenting a paper addressing the interrelated histories of environment and technology at the ASEH meeting in Seattle, WA on March 30–April 3. The grant is available to current graduate students, recent Ph.D.s (earned within three years) and independent scholars. The application is due by Monday, March 14, 2016. The winner will receive a check for $400 at the Envirotech breakfast meeting during the conference.

Applicants should complete the attached questionnaire and email it along with a one or two page C.V. to envirotechtravelaward@gmail.com. Any questions should be addressed to Kellen Backer and submitted by email to envirotechtravelaward@gmail.com.

Call for Nominations: 2015 Joel A. Tarr Envirotech Article Prize

Envirotech, a special interest group within the Society for the History of Technology and the American Society for Environmental History, invites nominations for the 2015 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 the past. The prize committee will consider all publications that address the intersections of environment and technology and is particularly interested in those that give new insights into interactions between histories and their publics. Articles originally published in any language are welcome, but applicants must provide a translation of non-English articles. To be eligible for the 2015 prize, the article must be published between June 16, 2014 and November 15, 2015.

The Tarr Prize carries a cash award of $350 and will be conferred at the American Society for Environmental History meeting in Seattle, Washington.

Send one copy of your article and a brief curriculum vitae (one page Word or PDF files only please) to tarrprize2015@gmail.com to be considered. The deadline for submissions is December 18, 2015. Winners will be announced in early February.

2014 Joel A. Tarr Prize winner announced!

Andrew Denning has been selected as the winner of the 2014 Joel A. Tarr Prize.

The members of Envirotech are pleased to announce that Andrew Denning has been selected as the winner of the 2014 Joel A. Tarr Prize for his article “From Sublime Landscapes to ‘White Gold’: How Skiing Transformed the Alps after 1930,” Environmental History 19 (January 2014): 78-108.

The Tarr Prize recognizes the best article published in a journal or edited collection on the relationship between technology and environment in history during the previous 18 months. Envirotech would also like to thank our prize committee members—Ann Greene, Steve Cutcliffe, and Ashley Carse—for their service.

Denning’s article examines the material and imaginative transformation of Alpine landscapes in the twentieth century. Writing in an engaging style, he integrates histories of environment, technology, and culture to craft a seamless narrative of landscape change in which the distinctions between these fields and their organizing categories seem superfluous. In so doing, Denning makes a compelling case for the value added by analyzing landscape change through an envirotech lens. After all, as he shows, neither ski slope managers pursuing the goal of snow security—maintaining enough “white gold” on the slopes to attract business—nor visiting tourists saw clear boundaries between nature and technology. New technologies like cable lifts, which moved skiers to existing snow at higher elevations, and snow cannons, which pumped out artificial snow, changed the industry and smoothed out the variability in weather and climate that had plagued their predecessors. In so doing, technologies embedded ski tourism in the physical and economic landscape, while reinforcing a particular vision of Alpine nature.

The major contribution of the article to Envirotech is its extension of the study of the environment-technology nexus to the study of sport and leisure. While we have learned a great deal about how nuclear, chemical, and agricultural interventions have shaped and been shaped by the non-human environment, Denning’s work reminds us that landscapes of leisure—even those that appear natural—are also engineered. Indeed, entire industries have been organized around the creation and maintenance of a natural aesthetic (a snowy mountainside, a palm-covered beach). To that end, the article draws on a wide range of theory—from Richard White’s writing on work and nature, to sociologist John Urry’s work on the consumption of place, to philosopher Peter Sloterdijk’s ideas about modernity and speed—to explain why and how Alpine landscapes were produced for tourist consumption. By recognizing sports and leisure as phenomena where the environmental and the technical bleed together, Denning opens up a new space for envirotech research.

Envirotech 2014 SHOT Travel Grant

The Envirotech Special Interest Group is pleased to announce a $400 travel grant for the upcoming 2014 SHOT conference. Eligibility for the award is limited to those presenting a paper addressing the interrelated histories of environment and technology at the upcoming SHOT meeting in Dearborn, MI November 6-9 2014. The grant is available to current graduate students, recent Ph.D.s (earned within three years) and independent scholars. The application is due by Friday, September 19, 2014. The winner will receive a check for $400 at the Envirotech breakfast meeting during the conference.

Applicants should complete this formTravel_Grant_App_SHOT2014, and email it along with a one or two page C.V. to TravelGrant@envirotechhistory.org. Any questions should be addressed to Chair, Envirotech Travel Grant, and submitted by email to TravelGrant@envirotechhistory.org.

Call for submissions: 2014 Joel A. Tarr Envirotech Article Prize

Envirotech, a special interest group within the Society for the History of Technology and the American Society for Environmental History, invites nominations for the 2014 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 interested in publications that show how studying the intersections of environment and technology can lead to new insights into historical topics. Articles originally published in any language are welcome, but applicants must provide a translation of non-English articles. To be eligible for the 2014 prize, the article must be published between November 1, 2012, and June 15, 2014.

The Tarr Prize carries a cash award of $350 and will be conferred at the Society for the History of Technology conference in Dearborn, Michigan, October 7-11, 2014.

Send one copy of your article and a brief curriculum vitae (one page Word or PDF files only please) to tarrprize2014@gmail.com to be considered. The deadline for submissions is August 1, 2014. Winners will be announced in early September.

Envirotech travel grant winner

Envirotech is pleased to announce that L. Ruth Rand, a graduate student in the University of Pennsylvania’s Program in the History and Sociology of Society, is the winner of the Envirotech Travel Grant for travel to the March ASEH conference in San Francisco.

At the conference, Rand will present in the session “What Is a Disaster? A Roundtable on Risk and Disaster Research in Environmental History” where she will offer her perspective as an environmental historian of outer space and present on her research about Near-Earth space debris and the political and technological implications of declaring Near-Earth outer space a site of environmental disaster.

Many thanks to envirotech’s travel grant committee: Leslie Tomory, Maurits Ertsen, and Eve Buckley.

Envirotech Travel Grant – ASEH 2014

The Envirotech Special Interest Group is pleased to announce a $400 travel grant for the upcoming 2014 ASEH conference. Eligibility for the award is limited to those presenting a paper addressing the interrelated histories of environment and technology at the upcoming ASEH meeting in San Francisco, CA, March 12-16, 2014. The grant is available to current graduate students, recent Ph.D.s (earned within three years) and independent scholars. The application is due by Monday, December 16, 2013. The winner will receive a check for $400 at the Envirotech breakfast meeting during the conference.

Applicants should complete this form, and email it along with a one or two page C.V. to TravelGrant@envirotechhistory.org. Any questions should be addressed to Chair, Envirotech Travel Grant, and submitted by email to TravelGrant@envirotechhistory.org.

2013 Joel A. Tarr Article Prize awarded Ashley Carse

The members of Envirotech are pleased to announce that Ashley Carse has been selected as the winner of the 2013 Joel A. Tarr Prize for his article “Nature as Infrastructure: Making and Managing the Panama Canal Watershed,” Social Studies of Science 42 (2012): 539-563. The Tarr prize recognizes the best article published in a journal or edited collection on the relationship between technology and environment in history during the previous 18 months. Envirotech would also like to thank our prize committee members–Erik Rau, Heike Weber, and Steve Cutliffe–for their service.

In describing the Panama Canal watershed as an environmental artifact that provides infrastructural services—namely, supplying the 52 million gallons of water that flush out to sea with each of the 35-45 ships that transit the isthmus each day—Carse’s work invokes envirotech approaches expressed in the work of Joel Tarr and others—a fusion of the history of technology and STS with environmental history—while incorporating this tradition with theories and practices from postcolonial studies, political ecology, geography, anthropology, and ethnography. The result is an approach that enriches all of these fields while providing a new perspective on the human-environment relationship.

Infrastructure studies have animated the history of technology and STS for decades, but only recently has the term “infrastructure” been applied to landforms, and then, as in the work of Mark Benedict and Edward McMahon, to realize the economic contribution of ecosystems to human productivity. As Carse is aware, this shift in nomenclature, with its managerial logic, follows “a broader interdisciplinary effort since the 1980s to assign the environment value as natural capital: a stock that provides ecosystem services that benefit humans at multiple scales” (542).

In his analysis of efforts by American and Panamanian state institutions to manage the watershed and refresh the waters drained away by the canal, the interests of canal managers and engineers collide with the horticultural interests of campesinos, whose presence and farming practices are themselves an outcome of efforts to administer the watershed’s environment for different purposes. In enacting populist land redistribution policies in the 1950s and 1960s, the Panamanian government encouraged the development of agriculture by smallholders whose swidden agricultural practices (often pejoratively referred to as “slash-and-burn”) reduced watershed forests by fifty percent between the 1950s and late 1970s. By the latter date, American scientists, like Frank Wadsworth of the US Forest Service, sounded the alarm that deforestation threatened canal operations by reducing the watershed’s capacity to “produce” and store water. Although the reduction of water had several causes—drought and increased ship traffic among them—scientists, canal administrators, and other institutional actors focused on managing the interests of the horticulturalists to avoid conflict with those of the state and corporate shipping interests. Ironically, the coercive nature of these practices, especially after the canal treaty between the United State and Panama was signed in 1977, led campesinos to rotate fallow land back into use more rapidly, leading to lower fertility and the perpetuation of deforestation.

Carse’s ethnographic work reveals a complex web of relationships that elude easy characterization of motives and actions as simply good or evil. The coercive tactics of the Noriega regime in the 1980s, for instance, have been replaced by well meaning international NGOs, Peace Corps volunteers, and social and natural scientists all wanting to assist reforestation, but unwittingly abetting the growing marginalization of the campesinos. Experts may see the campesinos’ presence in the watershed as a problem, but rarely do they recognize the farmers’ swidden agricultural practices are also an artifact of a competing techno-political system. As Carse shows, rural marginalization is embodied in and experienced through technological infrastructure, particularly historical processes of connection and disconnection. One village in which Carse undertook his fieldwork, despite being situated near the canal and Panama’s largest two cities, was first electrified in 2009. By itself, this observation of competing technological visions underscores the rich possibilities that Carse’s work holds for envirotech approaches in the future.

The prize was awarded during the 2013 ASEH meeting in Toronto in April 2013. Envirotech will next offer the Joel A. Tarr Article Prize at the 2014 SHOT Conference. Papers published between November 1, 2012 and May 1, 2014 will be eligible. A call for applications will be released after May, 2014.

Envirotech Travel Grant Application – SHOT 2013

The Envirotech Interest Group is pleased to announce a $400 travel grant for the upcoming SHOT conference in Portland, ME. Eligibility for the award is limited to those presenting a paper addressing the interrelated histories of environment and technology at the 2013 SHOT meeting in Portland (10-13 October 2013). 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 Monday, September 2nd, 2013. The winner will receive a check for $400 at the Envirotech 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.