Transplanting Modernity: the Environmental Legacy of International Development

June 23-24, 2015, Washington, DC

Call for papers

This two-day, NSF sponsored workshop will focus on the environmental impact technological modernization and other forms of development assistance had in the Global South during the twentieth century. Historians and other scholars interested in science, technology and environmental change will gather in the Washington DC area June 23-24, immediately before the Society for the History of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) Conference in Washington, DC. Conference papers of 5000-7000 words will be pre-circulated among workshop participants. Conference papers may be included in an edited volume that will be assembled after the conference.

Environmental change—and related social and political transformation—is one of the most important consequences of international development and, indeed, foreign relations more broadly But although these technological programs literally remade the world—redirecting rivers, cutting and planting forests, reshaping croplands, reconfiguring disease landscapes, introducing new plant and animal species and eradicating others, creating new transportation and energy infrastructures, redesigning cities, altering perceptions—rarely have their environmental dimensions been examined systematically. This conference will bring together historians and other scholars with expertise in regions around the world for an intensive two-day workshop focused on broad discussion and manuscript preparation. We expect participants to prepare conceptually and empirically rich papers in advance, provide comments and suggestions on other papers, and work with workshop colleagues to create a focused, well-integrated final publication.

The mission of the meeting is comparative; to bring together scholars with far-flung expertise to discuss how the regions they know were touched by the global phenomenon of development. Our goal is to dig into new dimensions of well-established fields of development history but also to explore the less well-known past of development programs. We especially welcome proposals that deal with the environmental effects of modernizing transportation, agriculture, urban areas and health, and with papers that extend the timeline for the history of development past the middle of the 20th Century. We also welcome papers that push the boundaries of development history beyond a focus on U.S. and state-sponsored projects.

Meals and accommodation will be provided for the workshop, and a modest travel stipend will be offered. Conference participation is open to all, but we especially welcome submissions from younger scholars.

Please submit a 300-word abstract and a 2-3 page CV to by October 15, 2014. Questions should be directed to the same email account.

For more information, please visit

Deadline: October 15, 2014

Posted: October 13, 2014