CFP: Atlantic Environments and the American South

February 5-6, 2016, Rice University

Call for papers

The History Department at Rice University invites proposal for a two-day symposium on the intersection of Atlantic History and Environmental History in the American South. Over the past couple decades Atlantic History and Environmental History have been two of the most dynamic fields in the discipline, yet the two rarely overlap. This conference, in short, explores why this intersection has deep untapped potential. By placing this intersection in the American South, we hope to engage a discourse in the flow of peoples, commodities, and ideas, along with their political, economic, social, and cultural implications in a region that has served as the setting for a number of rich Atlantic and Environmental studies. This conference will be primarily concerned with how people altered, interacted with, and thought about the terrestrial, maritime, and atmospheric environments of the South and the Atlantic and will look, for example, at how cotton, sugar, tobacco, rice, and a host of other commodities moved between the southern United States and the larger Atlantic world. By analyzing the environmental implications of these currents both into and out of this region, we hope to  better understand how such flows were made possible by larger, Atlantic-wide networks.

The conference will convene on Friday, February 5, 2016 at Rice University in Houston, TX, with a keynote address from W. Jeffrey Bolster, Professor of History at the University of New Hampshire, and conclude on Saturday, February 6 with a keynote address from Paul Sutter, Associate Professor of History at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Proposals may consider the ways the environments of the American South and greater Atlantic interacted, and the conference hopes to attract papers that look from the South outward and from the Atlantic inward. Possible topics include:

  • Commodity flows
  • Production/consumption networks
  • Ideas of the environment
  • Local/regional/national/international scales
  • Nation building
  • Migration
  • Enslaved and free labor
  • Cultural formation
  • Imperial/inter-imperial relations
  • Weather and climate

Proposals that investigate the myriad interactions and connections between the environments of the Atlantic and the South are invited. But the conference organizers self-consciously do not prescribe any set chronological boundaries. While many Atlantic studies are concerned with the development and deepening of transoceanic interactions from the 15th through the 19th centuries, many environmental and southern histories focus on the 19th and 20th centuries. Thus Proposals from these many periods and urge presenters to think deeply about these temporalities are invited. Proposals should be no more than 300 words and include a CV. Additionally, papers presented will be considered for inclusion in an anthology to be published by a major university press.

Atlantic Environments and the American South will take place on the campus of Rice University and has been made possible thanks to the generosity of the Rice University Humanities Research Center, School of Humanities, and Department of History.

Proposals must be received by September 15, 2015 and should be sent via email to

Limited support for participants’ travel and lodging may be available for presenters.

For more information, contact the conference conveners, Thomas Blake Earle ( and D. Andrew Johnson ( or go to

Deadline: September 15, 2015

Posted: September 09, 2015