Reparative Environmental History
ASEH invites proposals for its conference March 25-29, 2020, in Ottawa, Ontario. Oral histories and archaeological artifacts from this area attest to Ottawa’s long and fraught history. The great falls on Kiji Sibi were an important confluence of trade, exchange, and ceremony as well as an important resting place for the Algonquin First Nations people throughout the north-east. With the arrival of Europeans, Kiji Sibi continued to serve as a highway, giving traders and explorers a canoe route to the Great Lakes and the northwest beyond. At the end of the eighteenth century, the British renamed Kiji Sibi the Ottawa River and used it to mark the boundary between Upper and Lower Canada (present day Ontario and Quebec). Thus divided, the Algonquin people’s traditional territory was opened for European settlers. Many of these histories continue to reverberate today. Ottawa currently lies within the Algonquin Land Claim, one of the largest and most complex in Ontario. Acknowledging this and other First Nation sovereignties, the ASEH meeting in Ottawa recognizes the need for reparative work against historic and ongoing colonialism and its consequences for water, land, animals, forests, and people.
The program committee invites panel and paper proposals that consider environmental history in all periods and places, especially those concerning the theme of Reparative Environmental History. Analyses of the influence of material, economic, and political power on historical ecologies and the people who live in them are already familiar in environmental history.The theme of Reparative Environmental History builds on these analyses by addressing the possibility of making amends to those whose legal rights, health, livelihoods, and access to nature were denied through others’ exercise of power, as well as to the profoundly altered ecosystems themselves. Reparations require close examination of past processes, how they have been narrated, and how these narratives have been deployed and by whom. We especially welcome proposals that consider environmental history as a force for material, political, or discursive reparation to those disadvantaged by many conditions, including class, race, gender, faith, colonial subjecthood, and rural or urban location. We also welcome consideration of histories of ecological restoration. What forms of harm and strategies for justice have resonated in the field of environmental history? What sort of work within the field itself could enhance the inclusiveness of environmental history and advance its scholarship? How might environmental historians contribute their methods and knowledge about the past to aid ecological and social restorative efforts?