• Current Projects

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    Reading, Radicalism and Paramilitarism in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1932-1942


    While radicalization today is spoken of as a new phenomenon, the integration of youth and disenfranchised citizens into larger political projects deemed ‘radical’ or ‘extreme’ has long sustained paramilitary activity around the world. In order to understand the questions surrounding radicalization posed above, I am studying a historical case of radicalization: the rise of Communist Party youth in the 1930s Kingdom of Yugoslavia and their subsequent transformation, in the early 1940s, into Yugoslav Partisan paramilitary units, and eventually the National Liberation Army of Yugoslavia (NOV). This project will ask: how did ordinary civilians ally themselves with Communist politics and become members of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ) in the 1930s? And, furthermore, how did these Communist Party members organize themselves from local KPJ committees into paramilitary units during World War II? This project, in particular, plays close attention to the role of engineers, scientists and miners from Bosnia and Herzegovina's resource industry in the rise of Communist politics. I am especially interested in the cultural tactics used by these industrial elites in promoting new ideas, such as literacy campaigns, reading circles and informal libraries. I argue that we need to engage in a broader discussion of the usage of cultural forms and cultural objects in non-state violence and paramilitary organizations.


    Photo: Sabrina Perić

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    Melting Frontiers

    Petroscience, Climate History and the Permafrost Archive


    In the history of northern science and industry, permafrost has been understood primarily as a civil engineering problem: the annual thawing and refreezing of its active top layer posed problems of durability and stability for any infrastructural project, especially northern pipelines. During the Cold War, the understanding of permafrost and its possibilities changed. Cold War scientists, petroleum microbiologists and geologists, working together under the auspices of and through the infrastructure of Imperial Oil, transformed the role of permafrost in the Canadian North. Rather than seeing it as a hindrance to northern expansion and resource exploitation, they began to turn to permafrost sampling for information, understanding the analysis of its substrate materials (which include sediment, organic matter and water/ice) as a way to reconstruct the complex history, geography and geology of of an area. This historical and ethnographic project examines how scientists collaborate to construct permafrost as an archive through which radically changing notions of time and space not only come to shape current oil and gas projects, but also emphasize permafrost's place as a repository of climate history. I suggest that scientists' participation in both large-scale extractive projects, as well as climate science, have had critical implications for 20th and 21 century global politics.


    This is the first part of a larger multi-year project, Deep Ice: Understanding Climate Histories, Politics and Futures.


    Photo above: sampling a permafrost core in the Lanoil Lab, Edmonton, AB. Photo: Brian Lanoil

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    The Pipeline Inquiry

    Expertise and Decision-Making on the Arctic Hydrocarbon Frontier


    Pipeline building is no simply task. As the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline and Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline demonstrated, pipeline proposals have an incredible ability to engage and politically mobilize people from a wide cross-section of society both in support of energy infrastructure expansion, and against it. But these protests are not a new phenomenon. Rather they index a much longer history of public engagement in and resistance to energy infrastructure. Pipeline building has been especially challenging in the circumpolar world. The pipeline approval process has been fraught with concerns over the contrasting demands of states, corporations and citizens, as well as concern over the future of sensitive Arctic ecosystems. This project aims to understand how decisions are made within the format of a pipeline inquiry - one of the most important parts of the approval process. I want to understand 1) how the decision to build or reject an Arctic pipeline actually occurs; 2) what kind of knowledge and expertise is necessary to pipeline approval process; and 3) the role of affect and testimony in the pipeline approval process. I will be examining three proposed northern pipelines: the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), the Mackenzie Valley Gas (MVG) Pipeline and the Alaska Highway (Alcan) Pipeline. All three were proposed in the 60s and 70s, but only TAPS was built. All of these pipeline approval processes were deeply marked by a dynamic knowledge exchange between politicians, corporate officials, Indigenous people, scientists and environmental activists. While contemporary concerns are different from those of the 1970s, many of the environmental and political issues that marker the pipeline inquiry process now for the basis of the regulatory and consultation approval processes in North America.


    Photo above: Sabrina Perić