Editor’s note: This is the sixth article in “Soundings,” a series of articles jointly published by The Otter ~ la loutre and the Acadiensis Blog that considers new approaches to history and the environment in Atlantic Canada. The entire series is available here on the Otter and here on Acadiensis.
- Tina Loo and Sally Hermansen, Belonging to Place
- Mark McLaughlin, The Science before Silent Spring
- Josh MacFadyen and Andrew Watson, Go Big or Go Spruce
- Daniel Samson, Weather and Emotion in James Barry’s Diary, 1849-1906
- Alan MacEachern, When History Stops at the Border
- Claire Campbell, Six Thoughts in Search of an Epilogue (Or, writing a federalist epilogue) (Or, writing at the end of semester)
1. Do you belong to this place?
What does it say about the state of environmental history in Atlantic Canada that none of us are writing from Atlantic Canada? Some of us are come-from-aways who went away again; some are Maritimers who went down the road or across the continent. How, how well, do we write our feelings of concern, investment, attachment from away? Does that even matter?
What does this say about the current economics of higher education and research (especially in the humanities) inthe region? Ironically, living and working in environmental history in Canada’s smallest provinces, you can still be quite isolated. You barely need the fingers of a second hand to count the number of NiCHE members working at Atlantic universities. I suspect many more people would want to pursue questions of what and who and when and why … if they were only given the how.
What does this mean for the prospects of environmental history being used – or not used – on the ground? Is this an opening for new lines of public history (and history employment outside the academy): presenting and publishing community and local history,in dialogue with the much larger and pressing framework of environmental sustainability and climate change? A citizen humanities, to complement citizen science, perhaps also led by Parks Canada? Inversely, does digitization enhance our ability to connect with the region from away? In a region that must lead the country into a post-industrial era, how can museums, libraries, and the like be centres of opportunity (i.e. for recent graduates) as well as scholarship?