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Global fat resources: Connecting themes, approaches and narratives, ca. 1850–2022

23. Mai – 24. Mai 2023 

Con­fer­ence at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Bergen

Dead­line for pro­pos­als: 8 Jan­u­ary 2023

Glob­al resources have become a hot top­ic in many his­tor­i­cal dis­ci­plines. Soci­eties and economies around the globe have become increas­ing­ly depen­dent on the import and export of ener­gy resources, met­als, agri­cul­tur­al prod­ucts and oth­er com­modi­ties. The exploita­tion of glob­al resources cre­at­ed wealth, trig­gered inno­va­tion and, on the oth­er, side led to tremen­dous social and envi­ron­men­tal costs. In addi­tion, resource exploita­tion and trade meant new depen­den­cies and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties across the globe, increas­ing com­pe­ti­tion for glob­al resources and volatile com­mod­i­ty prices. Glob­al resources rep­re­sent a sub­ject con­nect­ing major soci­etal chal­lenges such as resource secu­ri­ty, glob­al jus­tice and envi­ron­men­tal and cli­mate change.

This work­shop aims at facil­i­tat­ing and build­ing con­nec­tions between dif­fer­ent his­tor­i­cal themes, approach­es, nar­ra­tives and dis­ci­plines in the inves­ti­ga­tion of glob­al resources since the mid-19th cen­tu­ry until today, with a par­tic­u­lar focus on fat resources. Build­ing con­nec­tions com­pris­es the chal­lenge of con­nect­ing themes and sub­jects such as spaces in the Glob­al South and in the Glob­al North, pow­er rela­tions across large dis­tances, colo­nial vio­lence and indige­nous agency, resource exploita­tion and social and envi­ron­men­tal trans­for­ma­tion, resource secu­ri­ty and sus­tain­abil­i­ty, etc. Such the­mat­ic con­nec­tions suf­fer from enor­mous imbal­ances and bias, e.g. through the over­whelm­ing pre­dom­i­nance of his­to­ri­ans and sources from the Glob­al North and the chal­leng­ing dearth of indige­nous and envi­ron­men­tal sources and perspectives.

Build­ing con­nec­tions like­wise means cross­ing dis­ci­pli­nary bound­aries and link­ing con­cepts and approach­es for the inves­ti­ga­tion of glob­al resources that have been devel­oped in his­tor­i­cal dis­ci­plines such as glob­al his­to­ry, envi­ron­men­tal his­to­ry, colo­nial his­to­ry, com­mod­i­ty his­to­ry, his­to­ry of sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy and eco­nom­ic his­to­ry. The work­shop encour­ages dis­cus­sion, which (dif­fer­ent) ques­tions researchers ask, which con­cepts and approach­es they use, which lit­er­a­tures and sources they con­sid­er, which inter­pre­ta­tions and nar­ra­tives they con­struct and with which prob­lems they strug­gle. It is a major goal to fer­til­ize con­nec­tions and future cross-dis­ci­pli­nary research per­spec­tives and approach­es for the devel­op­ment of future research projects on glob­al resources.

Glob­al fat com­pris­es all kinds of edi­ble fat and (non-fos­sil) oil resources rang­ing from oil seeds such as soy­beans, palm fruits, coconuts and oth­ers to var­i­ous types of ani­mal fats rang­ing from whale oil to cat­tle feed oils. Indus­tries in the Glob­al North became depen­dent on fat resources from the Glob­al South dur­ing the late 19th and 20th cen­turies. While colo­nial ven­tures, trade impe­ri­al­ism and the accel­er­at­ing glob­al­iza­tion of post­colo­nial fat trade gen­er­at­ed tremen­dous prof­its pri­mar­i­ly in the Glob­al North, it made trop­i­cal coun­tries fate­ful­ly depen­dent on the exploita­tion of their nat­ur­al resources and became a dri­ving force of accel­er­at­ing defor­esta­tion and social and envi­ron­men­tal dis­rup­tion and change.

We invite pro­pos­als on glob­al resource con­nec­tions, par­tic­u­lar­ly on glob­al fat, includ­ing a short abstract (ca. 300 words) and a one page CV until 8 Jan­u­ary 2023. Please send your pro­pos­al to the fol­low­ing address: The work­shop is open to all researchers of rel­e­vant dis­ci­plines. Trav­el sup­port will be avail­able for par­tic­i­pants with­out own fund­ing. If you need trav­el sup­port, please note so on your pro­pos­al and give an approx­i­mate esti­mate of the expect­ed trav­el expens­es. This work­shop is part of the Ten­sions of Europe Research Group Tech­nol­o­gy, Envi­ron­ment and Resources, fund­ed by the research net­work “Chal­leng­ing Europe: Tech­nol­o­gy, Envi­ron­ment and the Quest for Resource Secu­ri­ty” (Eur­ReS) and will be orga­nized by Ines Predöhl and Ele­na Kochetko­va (Uni­ver­si­ty of Bergen) and Matthias Hey­mann (Aarhus University).


Matthias Hey­mann

Cen­tre for Sci­ence Studies

Aarhus Uni­ver­si­ty

Ny Munkegade 118, Build­ing 1530

8000 Aarhus C


Phone: +45 87155646