S. Bocking (Yukon River, June 2009)

Stephen Bocking

Professor and Chair
Environmental and Resource Studies Program, Trent University

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The Political and Environmental History of Science in Northern Canada

For a number of years I have been working on a history of environmental science in northern Canada, from the Second World War to the present day. This project has provided an excellent opportunity to understand how scientific practice and knowledge relate to the specific political, social, economic, cultural and environmental circumstances of the North. This project has received support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Standard Research Grants Program.

The chief product of this project will be a book that seeks to bridge the history of science and environmental history. In the meantime, I have produced a number of publications and presentations based on this project:.

"Indigenous Knowledge and the History of Science, Race, and Colonial Authority in Northern Canada,” in: A. Baldwin, L. Cameron, & A. Kobayashi, eds., Rethinking the Great White North: Race, Nature, and the Historical Geographies of Whiteness in Canada, (University of British Columbia Press, 2011), pp. 39-61.

"Seeking the Arctic: Science and Perceptions of Northern Canada," The Dalhousie Review, Spring 2010, 90(1): 61-74.

"A Disciplined Geography: Aviation, Science, and the Cold War in Northern Canada, 1945-1960," Technology and Culture, 2009, 50: 320-345.

"Science and Spaces in the Northern Environment," Environmental History, 2007, 12: 868-895.

"Scientists and Evolving Perceptions of Indigenous Knowledge in Northern Canada," in U. Lischke & D. McNab, eds., Walking a Tightrope: Aboriginal People and Their Representations, (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2005), pp. 215-247.

"Environmentalism" In: Encyclopedia of the Arctic, ed. Mark Nuttall, (New York: Routledge, 2005), pp. 573-576.

"Arctic Contaminants and Country Foods: Scientific and Indigenous Perspectives on Environmental Risks," Environmental Practice, 2001, 3(2): 103-112.

"Polar Conversations: Defining a Democratic Northern Foreign Policy," Behind the Headlines, Vol. 56(2), 1999: 16-22 (with E. Keeble).

"Northern Science: Budgets Decline, as Environmental Concerns Increase," Alternatives, Vol. 22(4), 1996: 4.

Aquatic Science in Canada: A case study of research in the Mackenzie Basin, Royal Society of Canada, 1995. 96 pp.


“Science and the Environment in the Arctic” Arctic Forum Lecture, Dalhousie University, Halifax, March 2012.

“Indigenous Knowledge and the History of Science: Understanding Interactions Between Knowledge Systems in Northern Canada” Osaka City University, Japan, February 2012.

“Exploring the Environmental History of Arctic Contaminants Science” Perspectives on Northern Environmental History Workshop, Trent University, October 2011.

"A Canadian Arctic Science Policy: Historical Contexts," Canadian Science Policy Conference, Montreal, October 2010.

"Situated Yet Mobile: Examining the Environmental History of Northern Science," Workshop on Bringing STS into Environmental History, Trondheim, Norway, August 2010.

"History of Science in Northern Canada: Knowledge, Politics, and Boundaries," GTA Symposium on the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science, Technology and Medicine, Ryerson University, Toronto, May 2010.

"Sketching a Political and Environmental History of Science in Northern Canada," NiCHE Northern History Workshop, Whitehorse, June 2009.

"Indigenous Knowledge and the Interaction of Science, Nature, and Cultural Identity in Northern Canada," Workshop on Rethinking the Great White North, Queen’s University, Kingston, February 2008.

"Scientists’ Perceptions and Relations with Indigenous Knowledge," Indigenous Research: Connecting Ideas, Connecting People, Trent University, November 2007.

"Polar Bears, The Cold War, and the Formation of Circumpolar Conservation in the 1960s," Global Sixties Conference, Kingston, June 2007.

"Scientists and Evolving Perceptions of Traditional Knowledge in Northern Canada," American Society for Environmental History Annual Meeting, Providence, RI, March 2003.

"The View From Above: The Impact of Aviation on Post-War Northern Science," Canadian Science and Technology Historical Association Biennial Meeting, Kingston, October 2001.

"Science, Politics, and Perceptions of the Arctic Environment," History of Science Society Annual Meeting, Vancouver, November 2000.

"Scientists and Evolving Perceptions of Traditional Knowledge," Wanipitei Aboriginal History/Politics Colloquium, August 2000.

"Humans and Ecology: Perspectives from Britain and Northern Canada," Dibner Institute for the History of Science, Wood's Hole, June 2000.

"Frontier, Fragile Land, and Homeland: Canada's North since the 1940s," Canadian Institute of International Affairs, Halifax, October 1998.

"Scientific Activity and Images of the Canadian Arctic," Conference on "Collective Memory & Heroic Science in Nordic Arctic Experience," Oslo, August 1997.

"Does Simple Mean Fragile? Ecological Theory and the Evolution of Environmental Concerns in the Canadian Arctic," American Society for Environmental History Conference, Baltimore, MD., March 1997.

"Southern Expertise, Northern Knowledge: Environmental Science in the Canadian Arctic, 1945-1990," Conference on Environmental Cultures: Historical Perspectives, Victoria, B. C., April 1996.