2022 Fall Conference

2022 Fall Conference

Building Ecosystems/Selling Natures: At the Edge of Environments and Economies

Registration for the conference is OPEN!
Conference Program


October 28, 2022


8:00-8:30 Breakfast and Greeting


Panel 1: Connecting Nature and Consumers (8:30-10:15)

Brian Black, Penn State-Altoona
“Pumping Consumption: Filling Stations and American Energy Dependence, 1880-present”

Sally Clarke, University of Texas at Austin
“Nature in a Can: Chesapeake Bay Oysters and the American Can Company, 1900-1930”

Stephen Hausmann, University of St. Thomas
“Marketing Mountains: Mount Rushmore and the Commodification of the West”

Comment: Ann Norton Green, University of Pennsylvania


Panel 2: Exploiting Material Cycles (10:45-12:30)

Kristin Brig-Ortiz, Johns Hopkins University
“Wasting Water and Port City Commercialism in the Cape Colony and Natal, 1830-1900”

Raymond Hyser, University of Texas at Austin
“Coffee Forests: The Spread of Plantation Coffee Across the Global Tropics”

Jay Turner, Wellesley College
“Leakage: The Transnational flow of Wastes, Knowledge, and Activities around spent Lead-acid Batteries”

Comment: Greg Hargreaves, Hagley Library


12:30-1:30 Lunch (on site)


Panel 3: Creating Humans through Non-Humans (1:30-3:15)

Michael M. Belding III, University of Iowa
"Recklessness and Deviltry': Appraising Native Life in the Prairie Peninsula"

Timothy Burnside, Florida State University
“Fencing in the Family Farm: Sex, Barbed Wire, and the Religion of Animal Capital”

Brigid Prial, University of Pennsylvania
“The Value of a Chimpanzee: Production and Reproduction in the Establishment of Robert Yerkes' Chimpanzee Colony”

Comment: Nicole Welk-Joerger, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


Panel 4: Creative Things (3:45-5:30)

Cody Patton, Ohio State University
“Industrious Microbes: Human-Yeast Partnerships and the Standardization of American Brewing”

Jesse Ritner, University of Texas at Austin
“’A Few Bad Days’: The Eventful Nature of Snow Management in the U.S. Ski Industry, 1937-1980”

 Kristoffer Whitney, Rochester Institute of Technology
“Blood Money: Horseshoe crabs, Ocean Ecologies, and Biomedicine”

Comment: Timothy James LeCain, Montana State University


Reception (5:30-6:30)


Call for Papers

In everyday life we are embedded in ecosystems and economic systems that interact with one another, and indeed, are mutually constitutive. For a conference, “Building Ecosystems/Selling Natures,” we invite proposals that interrogate the interaction of various dualities: commerce and nature, firms and the earth’s resources, productive activity and the built environment. Our notion of ecosystems is expansive. It includes the many interactions among water, minerals, and geophysical features; biological systems within and between animals, plants, and microorganisms; and human-made settings such as buildings, cities, and transportation networks. We welcome papers that seek to blur the binary dualism between the many forms of nature and the institutions and social relations generated by economic activity.

We hope for proposals from a range of disciplinary perspectives, inspired as we are by scholars researching agriculture, mining, energy, water, enviro-tech, the built environment, evolution, and the biosphere (to name a few). Their scholarship explores the shared spaces that we hope to interrogate through this conference. In particular, we hope to create panels that bring together scholars working in different subjects, themes, and disciplines to see how they can cross-fertilize each other’s work, including researchers engaged with concepts like “Anthropocene” and “Capitalocene” and their efficacy.

We are interested in original, unpublished, empirical papers that are conceptually informed and historically framed addressing the above and related topics. We hope to consider proposals that may benefit from engagement with collections and experts from Hagley, an institution that has a wealth of resources from the mid-1800s to the recent past. However, we also welcome papers that span earlier time periods, use collections from other institutions, and encompass international cases. We particularly encourage proposals that consider the following questions:

· How have economies and technologies generated new capacity to alter and exploit the environment?

· How are features of nature turned into capital?

· How is nature marketed and sold?

· How do human creations, such as buildings, become ecosystems?

· How has the materiality and/or human understanding of nature framed economic behavior?

Please submit proposals of no more than 500 words and a one-page C.V. to Carol Lockman at clockman@Hagley.org by June 15, 2022. Conference presenters will be asked to submit complete versions of their conference papers by Oct. 7, 2021. The conference is planned as an in-person event but will adopt a virtual format if necessary. Presenters will receive lodging in the conference hotel and compensation for their travel costs. The conference organizers are planning an edited volume based on a selection of revised conference papers. The program committee is comprised of Tim LeCain, Nicole Welk-Joerger, Greg Hargreaves, and Roger Horowitz.