My latest article on the history of permafrost, climate change and resource extraction in Northern Canada just came out in the most recent issue of Public. It is entitled "Ice as a Counter-Archive: Permafrost, Archival Melt and Climate Futures."
Short recap: Describing three historical moments I discuss how, under the auspices of extraction projects, permafrost’s relentless thaw and freeze cycles continuously aided in the creation of new understandings of this frozen soil. Its thaw and freeze cycles were not only integral to the development of large-scale oil drilling and mining but have also resisted it in important ways. These three historical moments are not meant to be a chronological causal account of the idea of permafrost—in fact, these three moments are deeply layered. Although each moment presents a different understanding of permafrost, these differing ideas can also be held simultaneously. Thus, this article is intended to reveal how changes to definitions of nature are mutually constitutive of not only extractive possibilities but also broader society.
Photo above: Powerlines slumping in permafrost, Norman Wells, NWT, 1920s. Imperial Oil Collection, Glenbow Museum Archives, Calgary, AB, Canada.