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New Histories of Extraction: Mines, communities, and the environment

Fri, April 1, 8:30 to 10:00am, Westin Seattle Hotel, Vashon

Session Submission Type: Roundtable


Within environmental history and cognate disciplines, the once-neglected field of mining and extractive industries is being revivified with new themes, concepts, and practices. Animated by contemporary concerns around mineral and energy scarcity, the metal-hungry tech industry, and increasing global conflicts over the environmental impacts of extraction, environmental historians are engaging new questions, new methods, and new “publics” in their explorations of mining histories. Taking as its point of departure two forthcoming collections of interdisciplinary mining history—Mining North America and Mining and Communities in Northern Canada—this roundtable will engage established and emerging scholars, as well as the audience, in a wide-ranging appraisal of key directions in the environmental history of mining. Questions for consideration include: what are important new conceptual/theoretical insights and (inter)disciplinary practices emerging from recent scholarship on mining? How does the environmental history of mining contribute to contemporary debates and controversies over extractive developments and their impact on local environments and communities? How are changes over the past century in extraction—from decreasing ore grades to mining’s expansion into developing-world and Arctic regions to the emergence of widespread public opposition to mining—reflected in the concerns and questions of historians? What themes and questions remain unaddressed in this scholarship? Each of the panelists will be asked to contribute brief remarks in response to these questions, after which the audience and panelists will participate in a moderated evaluation of the new histories of extraction.

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