Seeing the Woods

A blog by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society


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Five Minutes with a Fellow: Ryan Jones

Five Minutes with a Fellow offers a brief glimpse into what inspires researchers in the environmental humanities. The interviews feature current and former fellows from the Rachel Carson Center.

Ryan was a Carson fellow in the summer of 2017.

 

Ryan Jones

Ryan graduated with a BA in German history from Walla Walla College (Washington State, USA) in 1998, before sojourning in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kamchatka to learn Russian and witness the chaos of the Yeltsin years. He returned to the US and completed his PhD in global history at Columbia University in 2008. His research inspierd an interest in the Pacific and took him to the University of Auckland, where he taught Pacific and environmental history. Ryan began research on the Pacific and history of whaling, working with marine biologists and policymakers. He also began research for his current book project: a global environmental history of Russian and Soviet whaling. He now teaches at the University of Oregon.

 

How does your research contribute to discussions around solving environmental challenges?

My research tries to give historical depth to understandings of the ocean. A perspective from the humanities allows us to understand just what happened to the oceans; why humans made the choices that they made; how they interact or fail to interact with the oceans in certain ways. What the barriers are to sustainability, what the (international) challenges are.

So there are two things. First, to try to get a deeper sense of oceanic ecosystems, which is particularly difficult and requires interdisciplinary work. But my research also contributes to these discussions more in the realm of the humanities in order to understand emotional, legal, and societal relationships to the oceans. Continue reading


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Household Consumption and Environmental Change in the Twentieth Century

30–31 May 2017, Bologna, Italy

In May 2017, the University of Bologna’s Department of History and Culture hosted a workshop entitled “Household Consumption and Environmental Change in the Twentieth Century.” The workshop was co-convened by RCC alumnus Giacomo Parrinello (Sciences Po, Paris) and professor of contemporary history Paolo Capuzzo (University of Bologna). The event was co-sponsored by the RCC and the University of Bologna. Twelve scholars from the US, Germany, and Italy convened to discuss the links between consumer culture (and practices) in the household and ecological transformations on multiple spatial and temporal scales.

By Giacomo Parrinello

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The papers, all pre-circulated in advance, were grouped into three panels: food and the kitchen, household technologies, and energy and the home. The three panels were preceded by an introduction by the conveners, which presented the central concern of the workshop: the apparent contradiction between awareness of negative ecological impact of mass consumption and the affects and identities embedded in consumer practices. Continue reading


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Transitions in Energy Landscapes and Everyday Life in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

27–29 April 2017, Munich, Germany

A report on the workshop sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK), Rachel Carson Center, and the Deutsches Museum (Germany), convened by Heather Chappells (University of British Columbia), Vanessa Taylor (University of Greenwich), Frank Trentmann (Birkbeck College), Helmuth Trischler (Deutsches Museum), and Christof Mauch (Rachel Carson Center).
By Vanessa Taylor and Heather Chappells

 

The modernizing force of electricity, symbolized by pylons traversing the countryside to transform urban and rural space, is a recurrent theme in narratives of twentieth-century energy transition. This workshop aimed to consider wider interpretations of landscape across scales— from mega-structures to micro-grids, from the home to the hearth— to understand energy landscapes from an everyday perspective. With participants from a wide range of disciplines we explored the symbolic meaning, socio-political construction, and material manifestations of energy transitions across space and time. We wanted to conceptualize consumers and communities as entangled in and shaping energy landscapes, not as bystanders in evolving socio-technical networks. How, we asked, have people engaged with these landscapes over time in their roles as energy users and producers, consumers and citizens in the everyday contexts of home, work, and leisure?

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Making Tracks: Chioma Daisy Onyige

In the “Making Tracks” series, RCC fellows and alumni present their experiences in environmental humanities, retracing the paths that led them to the Rachel Carson Center. For more information, please click here.

“Omoku: My Environment, My Heritage, My Reality.”

By Chioma Daisy Onyige

I was born in the late 1970s in the town of Omoku in Ogba Kingdom, an oil-producing community in Rivers State, Nigeria. It is situated in the heart of what is now known as the Niger Delta Region, in the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area (ONELGA). The region is blessed with many natural resources; it is a well-known fact that no local government area in Nigeria produces as much crude oil and gas as ONELGA. When I was born, the Omoku community had no electricity despite this oil production; the only light came from either the sun, gas flare from oil companies, or lights from the kerosene lamps. Today things have somewhat changed, but this has come with a price: the “oil curse.” Continue reading