Oct 15: Petrocultures Call For Papers

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Date: July 15, 2024 — October 16, 2011
Categories: Opportunities

Call for Paper, Panel and/or Workshop Proposals

 Petrocultures : Oil, Energy, Culture

University of Alberta: September 6-8th, 2012

Research Trip to Fort McMurray Alberta: 9-11th, 2012


The “Petrocultures: Oil, Energy, Culture” conference will take place on September 6 – 8th, 2012, at the University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada).  Keynote speakers include Allan Stoekl (Penn State University), Warren Cariou (University of Manitoba) and Ursula Biemann (video artist, Switzerland).

Petrocultures will bring together scholars, writers, filmmakers and artists from around the world who are engaged in an exploration of the social and cultural dimensions and impacts of  oil and energy.  The conference will examine and (re)assess how energy has been and remains an intrinsic part of socio-political life and cultural productivity, with a focus on two areas of research:

1)  How does our understanding of socio-cultural objects, events and phenomena change if we frame an analysis of them explicitly in relation to oil (and energy more generally)? What insights would we gain across the disciplines from such a theoretical/methodological maneuver? For instance, what might happen if we frame cultural and intellectual periods (as we do in the study of literature) not in terms of movements (e.g., modernism), nations (British modernism), or centuries (18th, 19th, 20th…), but in relation to dominant forms of energy at any given moment?


2)  How do energy resources that fuel the exploitation of the environment impact not only everyday life but also the form and content of its representation? What is the potential of these cultural representations produced through multiple technologies of publication and artistic/communicative production (e.g., art, film, literature), to rupture and/or change the ways in which we live with and relate to oil?


We invite papers, panels and workshop proposals that take up the above questions as well as contributions that address any of the wide range of topics related to petrocultures:

● labour in petrocultures (influx of temporary foreign workers, transient labour forces, the rights or lack thereof of labour, etc.)
● the composition of communities in historical and contemporary oil economies
● education in energy societies
● health (sex, drugs, addiction)
● the intersection of cultural and environmental issues (resource management, water and oil, etc.)
● Aboriginal cultures and societies (land and mineral rights, community safety, race in petrocultures, etc.)
● gender issues and women’s rights in male dominated labour markets
● politics and social-political life in petro-states
● and the impacts of all of these issues on forms of cultural production (art, literature, film, etc.) that attempt to represent and address the socio-cultural realities of living alongside oil technologies.


Papers will be accepted based on the merit of the proposed study, originality of approach, and fit with the aims and theme of the conference.  Graduate students are especially encouraged to apply. Please indicate when you submit your abstract whether you are interested in also participating (at your own cost) in a three day excursion on (September 9th– 11th) to Northern Alberta to tour the oil/tar sands. A selection of papers and presentations from the 2012 conference will be published in an edited collection on Petrocultures by McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Deadline for submission: October 15, 2011.  Decisions will be announced by December 1st, 2011.  Please send all proposals to:  petrocultures@gmail.com (c/o Imre Szeman and Sheena Wilson)

Types of submissions:

· 15-20 minute individual presentation: conference paper.
· 45-60 minute panel/roundtable (3-4 presenters).
·  90-minute workshop (hands-on learning, interactive): Interactive sessions that encourage participant involvement.  These workshops can be focused on generating discussion and recording ideas on specific subjects and themes.  These workshops can also encourage creative responses to oil and energy (e.g., through a writing workshop, a visual arts workshop etc. )

Propose an individual paper: Please send a 250 word abstract and a 100 word biography, as well as your contact information.

Propose a Panel: Please send a 250 word abstract for the panel, with a descriptive title for each presentation, and a 50 word bio and contact information for all members of the panel. When submitting the proposal, please copy it to all panel-participants to facilitate future correspondences.

Propose a Workshop: The Petrocultures conference will be the ideal venue for exploring theoretical and practical approaches to oil and energy in culture.  If you would like to lead a workshop session either independently or with other presenters, please submit a 250 word abstract for the workshop, with a 100-word bio for all workshop leaders.

September 9th -11th : Following the three-day academic conference, there is an optional research trip being organized to Ft. McMurray in Northern Alberta.

Petrocultures is supported through funding from the Kule Institute for Advanced Study (University of Alberta), The Alberta Institute for American Studies, Campus Saint Jean (University of Alberta), and the Canada Research Chair in Cultural Studies.