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Agricultural history society 2023 annual meeting

Knoxville, TN, United States
Contact person
Emily Pawley
E-Mail address


Date: 8-10 June 2023
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee (In order to make the meeting more accessible, and to plan for continuing transportation and pandemic disruption, we will be experimenting with remote options.)


Stories of the climate crisis often focus on the future, but agricultural historians already know a great deal about its many pasts. Through accounts of deforestation, the plowing of grasslands and digging up of peat, the rise of animal agriculture, artificial fertilizers, and fossil fuel based systems of food production, we trace the roots of the crisis. By examining the emergence of empires and markets in crops, lands, and people, we can better illuminate both these roots and the asymmetric effects that the crisis is already having. We also know that past climate change such as the Little Ice Age, and extreme weather such as droughts, frosts, and floods created challenges and opportunities for past agriculturalists. By examining their responses as well as the emergence of new forms of agriculture, we can better understand the profound agricultural transformations that are currently being proposed.

Papers and abstracts

With this conference we hope to sustain and extend the conversations begun at the 2022 "Greening the Field" Conference in Stavanger, Norway. We ask, what existing historical work should be informing our understanding of the climate crisis?  What new connections might we need to fully understand that crisis?

As always, we accept papers not centered on the conference theme.  Theme-related topics could include but are certainly not limited to:

  • The emergence of agricultural practices that have catalyzed or driven the crisis physically, e.g. deforestation, grass and peatlands destruction, mechanization, over-fertilization, and the shift to intensive animal agriculture
  • The larger social structures of markets, subsidies, development, coercion, incarceration, migration, and colonialism that undergird these agricultural practices, as well as some of the proposed solutions
  • Related accounts of resistance, power struggles, and agrarian activism
  • Examples of rural vulnerability and resilience in the face of crises
  • Accounts of rural fossil fuel development: fracking, pipelines, coal-mines, and oil wells
  • Histories of "organic," "alternative," and "regenerative" agriculture
  • Histories of other forms of culture being proposed as solutions, from tree plantations to kelp farms, cultured corals, and cellular and microbial agriculture
  • Examinations of the role of identity in shaping rural lives and agricultural policies
  • Stories of displacement, migration, mobility, and multinational refugee events related to changing climates
  • Evolving foodways, diets, and other cultural connections, either driving or adapting to changing climates
  • Policies, corporate practices, and NGO involvement related to agriculture and climate


Deadline for submissions to the annual meeting is October 15, 2022.

Program committee

Megan Birk, University of Texas
Andrea Duffy, Colorado State University
Emma Moesswilde, Georgetown University
Emily Pawley, Dickinson College (Chair)
Justin Randolph, Texas State University

More information

For all details, instructions and remote guidelines, please visit the website: