EHW 2021 – What are you doing?

We were unable to organise a full Environmental History Workshop this year, but didn’t want to let the year go without creating the annual space for environmental history in the UK that we established EHW for in the first place.

So we are organising a short and sweet ‘What are you doing?’ workshop, inspired by the successful ‘What’s happening in Black British History?’ workshop series. We invite proposals for ten-minute talks on future, new and ongoing research in environmental history. We would like this to be an opportunity to connect with other environmental historians based in the UK and further afield. Think of this as a chance to say ‘hi!’ to your fellow researchers, to float new project ideas, discuss a problem or conundrum in your work or talk about work in progress.

The workshop will be on Zoom on Wednesday 1 December, from 2pm to 4pm, and will feature up to six ten-minute talks.

If you would like to speak at the workshop, please send a title and short description of what you propose to talk about (no more than 150 words) to by 31 October 2021. We will get back to you by Friday 5 November and hope to release the programme the following week.

 Everyone is welcome to submit a proposal. If we receive more than six proposals we will prioritise welcoming new members to the environmental history community, selecting proposals from new scholars or those making their way into environmental history for the first time.

Fully-Funded PhD Studentship, Energy Citizens Before Energy Citizenship: Energy, Culture and Place-Based Identities in the UK and Ireland, 1950s–1990s, Queen’s University Belfast

Applications are invited for a funded PhD position at the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Queen’s University Belfast. This PhD project entitled ‘Energy Citizens Before Energy Citizenship: Energy, Culture and Place-Based Identities in the UK and Ireland, 1950s–1990s’ provides an opportunity to explore the historical interplay among modern energy life, consumer culture and environmental thinking in late 20th century UK and Ireland.

The project studies the historical evolution of energy consumers’ collective identity in a period when early optimistic visions for an energy future was seriously undermined by the 1970s energy crisis and then by growing concern about global climate change. These energy-related crises—along with the rise of environmentalism and ethical consumerism—engendered crucial contexts where ‘energy citizenship’ later emerged in the 1990s.

The main aim of this project is to illuminate historical precedents to the ethical and ecological dimensions of energy consumption and draw lessons for today’s discussion of energy citizenship, just energy transition and societal decarbonisation.

Due to funding restrictions, only UK students are eligible.

The application deadline is 30 September 2021.

For more information, please visit:

Dr Hiroki Shin is the contact for this position.

EHW 2021: Call for organizers!

We’re looking for a new committee to organize an environmental history workshop in 2021. If you think you might be interested in hosting the workshop, please get in touch!

Environmental History Workshop was established by five early career scholars in 2018 in the hope that it would become an annual, informal environmental history event hosted in the UK. Since then, we have hosted three events with a new organizing committee each year. Groups of predominantly early career scholars hosted events at the Institute of Historical Research, Northumbria University, and online through the University of Liverpool. Each year organizing committees are supported by us, the organizing collective, a group of former organizing committee members.

Over the last three years, Environmental History Workshop has taken the form of panels of papers and a keynote, and has been both in person and online. However, the circumstances of the present time have given rise to a wealth of new and creative online formats for academic events. We would be delighted to support a new committee in exploring a new format should they so wish.

As an organizing collective, we have accrued useful experience in hosting events in person and online which will be at your disposal. There are very few things set in stone about Environmental History Workshop, but there are some principles which have guided past events which we would hope a new committee would uphold:

  • Creating an accessible event with few barriers to participation
  • Being welcoming to scholars who are new to environmental history
  • Being supportive and encouraging towards early career scholars
  • Being rooted in the community of environmental historians here in the UK but open to and enthusiastic about engaging with environmental history across the world

Anyone with a stake in environmental history is welcome to join this year’s organizing committee. There are a few things to consider before joining the committee. Organizing academic events can be time consuming, but we think it is worthwhile for the people you meet, the research connections you discover, and the contribution you make to the development of our field here in the UK. There is no budget attached to EHW – we will give you our time and wisdom, and the keys to the website and twitter feed, but we have no money. Each year we have made EHW work as a free event thanks to grants from institutions and societies, and have scaled the event accordingly. Before joining the committee it is worth considering whether funding might be required and where it might be sought. The main costs for an online event are likely to be funds to pay for a keynote speaker and possibly needing to pay for access to live transcription software for Zoom. However, you may choose to dispense with a keynote speaker, and you may be able to secure free transcription software. We will also be able to give you guidelines on how to run a successful online event.

If you would like to be involved the organizing committee for EHW 2021, please introduce yourself via email to:

We would like to assemble a new committee by the end of the month soon, so please get in touch by Friday 26 March soon!

[see update!] PhD funding at QUB for Before Energy Citizenship: Energy, Culture and Place-based Identities in the UK, 1950s–1990s

UPDATE: see the new advert, with extended deadline, here.

Applications are invited for a funded PhD position at the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Queen’s University Belfast.

Project: Before Energy Citizenship: Energy, Culture and Place-based Identities in the UK, 1950s–1990s

  • Type: Full Time PhD
  • Location: Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
  • Funding for: UK and EU* students 
    • *NI Department for the Economy funding regulations apply.
  • Application Deadline: 31 March 2021
  • Principal Supervisor: Dr Hiroki Shin

Project Description

This PhD project provides an opportunity to explore the historical interplay among modern energy life, public culture and consumer identity formation in late 20th century Britain.

The concept of energy citizenship has recently attracted intense academic interest in humanities and social sciences research on energy and climate change. In contrast to the conventional image of energy users as passive recipients of energy services, the scholarship on energy citizenship envisages energy users as active agents for energy systems’ evolution. This project contributes to the expanding literature on energy citizenship from a historical perspective by drawing upon the rich historiography on consumer citizenship and local/regional identity formation. Departing from the universalised idea of the ‘energy consumer’ identity, this project considers culturally attenuated and place-based modes of energy users’ identity formation, which have been shaped by local energy landscapes and local energy cultures. The project’s chronological focus begins with the 1950s, when modern energy appliances saw a strong penetration into Britain’s domestic and public spaces, and extends to the 1990s, a decade when the rise of the climate change debate began to question the energy-intensive consumer life. Through its investigation of the pre-history of energy citizenship, the project reconsiders the impact of modern energy consumption on social and cultural identity formation in late 20th century Britain.

The successful candidate will develop the project in her/his own direction, but some questions to address include:

  • How has modern energy life been articulated in cultural media, such as films, literature, museum displays and artworks, and what do they tell us about modern consumers’ identities as energy users, workers or citizens?
  • How have local energy landscapes (e.g., coal mines, power plants, gas fields, oil refineries, pylons and pipelines) contributed to the formation of distinctive local energy identities?
  • How have pre-existing local identities and memories shaped the public’s attitudes toward environmental movements, citizen protests and early responses to climate change discussions?

The candidate will develop case studies that ideally include some element of regional comparison within the UK. The project involves both online and archival research as well as an extensive survey of the existing literature on energy history, energy humanities, consumption history, cultural studies and science and technology studies. The candidate will be encouraged to incorporate non-textual sources into her/his study, including visual sources, material objects, heritage sites and oral histories.

All applicants must submit a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words on the research theme outlined in this call.

To apply for this studentship, please visit:

CfP: ESEH 2021 “Same planet, different worlds: environmental histories imagining anew.”

The European Society for Environmental History biennial conference comes to the UK next year! The University of Bristol will host the ESEH conference from 5th to 9th July 2021.

The call for papers is now live, part of which is reproduced below.

For updates on the conference preparations follow @ESEH2021 on twitter, or visit the conference website here.

“Same planet, different worlds: environmental histories imagining anew.”

Bristol, United Kingdom | 5th-9th July 2021

The European Society for Environmental History (ESEH) is pleased to invite proposals for our upcoming conference at the University of Bristol, UK. We want to host a conference for a post-plague world. Right now, our old ways of living have been interrupted, disrupted and ruptured by the COVID-19 outbreak. This devastating global pandemic carries an undeniable message of our entanglement across continents, species, societies, and bodies. Yet the virus hits us differently. We are all on the same planet but we are experiencing radically and divergently altered worlds. We thus draw inspiration for our conference theme from Arundhati Roy’s observation: ‘But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality. Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next’. The conference will provoke questions and conversations that can help us through the gateway. After all, our conferences have always been meaningful reactions to global conditions. Twenty years ago, at St Andrews we held the first ESEH Conference on ‘Environmental History: Problems and Potential’. Two decades later, we are now long past ‘potential’ – we need urgent intervention from historians in the crises of our times.

We embrace history that matters and our discipline’s ability to create ‘useable pasts’ for unusual times. This conference moves from the premise of an entangled world: first and foremost enmeshed in a global pandemic, a shared ecological crisis and climate catastrophe, as well as cultural connections from past colonial and postcolonial histories. Understanding entanglements and challenging boundaries has been important in bringing us together over the years. In Prague, we considered the boundaries of ‘diversity’. In Zagreb, we tackled boundaries as ‘contact zones’. In Tallin, we explored the boundaries ‘in/of environmental history’. In Bristol, we cross the boundaries into a new world.

Thus this conference resists a ‘return to normality’. These are extraordinary times and this will be an extraordinary conference. At this critical moment, as historians we need to look without and within. Certainly, we need to engage with the wider world: environmental historians are vital in today’s biggest planetary emergencies. Yet at the same time, we need to engage within our own discipline to rethink our academic practices in terms of environmental realities. This means thinking about writing ethical history, sustainable history and history that matters.

We want to use this opportunity to imagine anew: both how we have conversations (the conference format) and what the conversations are about (the possibilities of our discipline). This conference thus will be engaging in experimental new ways of sharing and generating knowledge, including a blended and collaborative co-learning environment.

Possible topics to be discussed under the umbrella concept of ‘Same planet, different world’, include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Pandemics: Politics, panics and panaceas
  • Environmental histories of public health and public policy
  • Industrial and agricultural impact on disease
  • Resisting the return to normality: the activist historian and strategies for sustainable research
  • Environmental histories of ‘wicked problems’
  • Edge effects: the uneven fallout of climate change
  • Other knowledges: vernacular histories and indigenous knowledge systems
  • Burning issue: fire histories
  • Justice and the past: writing history in the time of Black Lives Matter
  • Technology and envirotechnical systems in natural resource protection and conservation
  • Environmental justice: the legacies of colonialism and post-colonialism
  • Writing more­-than-­human histories
  • Creativity and the historical discipline
  • The possibilities and pitfalls of interdisciplinary research
  • Imagining other futures

We also welcome papers/provocations/presentations on environmental history outside the conference theme.

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