CfP: Agricultural Pasts of the Climate Crisis, the Agricultural History Society Annual Meeting

Stories of the climate crisis often focus on the future, but agricultural historians already know a great deal about its many pasts. Through accounts of deforestation, the plowing of grasslands and digging up of peat, the rise of animal agriculture, artificial fertilizers, and fossil fuel based systems of food production, we trace the roots of the crisis. By examining the emergence of empires and markets in crops, lands, and people, we can better illuminate both these roots and the asymmetric effects that the crisis is already having. We also know that past climate change such as the Little Ice Age, and extreme weather such as droughts, frosts, and floods created challenges and opportunities for past agriculturalists. By examining their responses as well as the emergence of new forms of agriculture, we can better understand the profound agricultural transformations that are currently being proposed.

With this conference we hope to sustain and extend the conversations begun at the 2022 "Greening the Field" Conference in Stavanger, Norway. We ask, what existing historical work should be informing our understanding of the climate crisis? What new connections might we need to fully understand that crisis?

As always, we accept papers not centered on the conference theme. Theme-related topics could include but are certainly not limited to:
  • The emergence of agricultural practices that have catalyzed or driven the crisis physically, e.g. deforestation, grass and peatlands destruction, mechanization, over-fertilization, and the shift to intensive animal agriculture
  • The larger social structures of markets, subsidies, development, coercion, incarceration, migration, and colonialism that undergird these agricultural practices, as well as some of the proposed solutions
  • Related accounts of resistance, power struggles, and agrarian activism
  • Examples of rural vulnerability and resilience in the face of crises
  • Accounts of rural fossil fuel development: fracking, pipelines, coal-mines, and oil wells
  • Histories of "organic," "alternative," and "regenerative" agriculture
  • Histories of other forms of culture being proposed as solutions, from tree plantations to kelp farms, cultured corals, and cellular and microbial agriculture
  • Examinations of the role of identity in shaping rural lives and agricultural policies
  • Stories of displacement, migration, mobility, and multinational refugee events related to changing climates
  • Evolving foodways, diets, and other cultural connections, either driving or adapting to changing climates
  • Policies, corporate practices, and NGO involvement related to agriculture and climate
As we take on an evolving global crisis, we hope to hear from a broad spectrum of voices and disciplines. Reflecting the society's inclusive tradition, we especially encourage contributions from emerging and contingent scholars and researchers covering understudied geographical regions or periods.


Conventional session proposals should include the organizer's contact information, a two-hundred-word abstract for each paper, and a one-page CV for each panel member.

Session proposals in other formats (roundtables, workshops, etc.) should include the organizer's contact information, a two-to-three-hundred-word abstract, and a one-page CV for each participant.

Individual paper proposals should consist of contact information, a two-hundred-word abstract, and a one-page CV.

Poster proposals should include contact information, a two-hundred-word abstract, and a one-page CV.

All proposals should be submitted electronically in a single file in MS Word format to the Program Committee by email to Emily Pawley.

Deadline for submissions is September 15, 2023

Program Committee:

Megan Birk, University of Texas
Andrea Duffy, Colorado State University
Emma Moesswilde, Georgetown University
Emily Pawley, Dickinson College (Chair)
Justin Randolph, Texas State University

Contact Info: Emily Pawley