(Call for Papers) Petrocultures Conference 2016

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Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland

August 31 – September 3, 2016

Approximately a third of all oil and gas production takes place offshore, and this proportion is continually increasing as companies push into ever deeper and more remote locations. Oil is sought and extracted from the Arctic Ocean to the South China Sea, from Bass Strait to the Niger Delta. In addition, oil is a key commodity of seaborne trade. According to recent UN Conference on Trade and Development statistics, nearly three billion metric tons of crude oil, gas, and petroleum products are shipped annually worldwide.
Despite the fact our economies and lifestyles depend so heavily on the oil industry, much of the work and infrastructure associated with it, to say nothing of the deposits themselves, are situated out of plain sight. This relative invisibility makes the cultural imaginaries of oil, particularly deepwater offshore oil, highly powerful. Petrocultures 2016 will provide an important forum for examining such figurations, including how they relate to framings of alternative forms of energy, such as wind and tidal power.
Newfoundland and Labrador is an excellent location from which to contemplate petrocultural matters. The Canadian province is highly dependent on its offshore oil industry, and prone to the ongoing social and economic instability that typically accompanies such reliance. Given Newfoundland and Labrador’s North Atlantic geographic and geological contexts, there are also especially illuminating parallels to be drawn between its experience and that of other offshore oil-producing places in the region, such as Ireland, Scotland, and Norway.
Petrocultures 2016 will bring together scholars, policy-makers, industry employees, artists, and public advocacy groups from across North America and beyond. Confirmed Keynote Speakers include: Barbara Neis (Memorial University); John Urry (Lancaster University) Helge Ryggvik (University of Oslo); Graeme MacDonald (University of Warwick); and, Elizabeth Nyman (University of Louisiana at Lafayette).
We seek proposals for papers and panels that address themes related to the offshore and/or petrocultures more generally. Papers and panels can be academic, creative, or any combination of the two. We ask that paper proposals be no more than 200 words in length, and that panel proposals have a 200-word description of the topic along with a list of paper titles. All submissions must include a 100-word biographical statement for each presenter.
Topics this conference will explore include, but are not limited to:

  • Energy’s cultural imaginaries
  • Resource histories (including relations between old and new uses of the sea’s resources)
  • Offshore futures (derelict rigs and climate change)
  • The sea as commons
  • Safety/Risk (including the Arctic/Far North)
  • Oil and mobility
  • Labour/Workforce
  • Indigenous and non-Indigenous community responses to energy

Please send proposals and biographical statements as soon as possible, but no later than January 5, 2016 to both Danine Farquharson (daninef@mun.ca) and Fiona Polack (fpolack@mun.ca).

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