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Cultures of Plate Tectonics - - A Special Issue

Editors:  Zeynep OÄŸuz and Adam Bobbette

The adoption of plate tectonics in the 1960s as scientific orthodoxy was one of the most profound scientific revolutions of the 20th century. It transformed the status quo understanding of the earth system, its history, and evolution. By combining existing explanations of the earth into a new unity, the narrative created a novel, late 20th century cosmology that continues to shape our understanding of the earth.

While the history of the science of plate tectonics is well enough documented, its cultural and political consequences are not. For such a profound change in understanding, scholars have not sufficiently traced its effects.

How did plate tectonics change everyday life, political projects, and imaginaries, in the late 20th century and into the 21st?

Some of the questions we intend to address with this special issue are: How did plate tectonics create new forms of belonging and togetherness, theories of race and ethnicity? In what ways did it transform religion and myth? How does it shape ongoing political struggles over territory, indigenous rights, and epistemologies? How did it speed up, expand, or create new extractive machines, techniques, and intersect with theories of sovereignty and environmental law?

The approach of this issue is inspired by the geological turn of the past decade which has called for a greater appreciation of the intersections between geological material, the geological sciences, and modern culture. The Anthropocene has raised awareness of the intersections between geology and society, while concepts of 'geosocial formations' and ‘geopoetics' have sought in their own ways to theorise the intersections between geology and culture. The emerging enthusiasm for non-Western traditions of geological and cosmological knowledge have provincialized Western geology and from this has emerged a new attention to “new earth histories† that de-emphasize the exceptionalism of Western geological science. This special issue seeks to understand how plate tectonics was informed by non-Western cosmologies and how it, in turn, hybridized with world cosmologies.

Send abstracts of 400-500 words by June 1st to a.bobbette@unsw.edu.au


Gaining Access to the Buffon and Lamarck Websites Hosted by the CNRS of France

Pietro Corsi of the Oxford Centre for the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology has sent out the following appeal:

The CNRS is now limiting access to the Buffon and Lamarck websites to people who ask for a code. Would it be possible to publish a short message on distribution lists for the history of science or eighteenth-century studies, or whatever list that might be interested, saying:

"Due to malevolent hacker attacks, access to the  http://www.buffon.cnrs.fr/ and the http://www.lamarck.cnrs.fr websites is now restricted to colleagues who have asked for a password. This is very easy to obtain: please write to: buffon@huma-num.fr asking for your

codes, and within a day you will gain access. The code will be the same for both websites. Sorry for the complication and thanks for your support to the work of scores of colleagues who are faced with unreasonable cuts and bureaucratic insensitivity to the project of sharing primary sources, prosopographic databases, manuscripts and herbaria worldwide."

I am desperately trying to save 20 years of work.  All the best for now,

Pietro Corsi

Oxford Centre for the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology (OCHSMT)
45-47 Banbury Road
OX2 6P2
tel. 0044 1865 274 613


  • 2020 GSA-HAPG, Montréal, Québec, Canada, 25–28 October
  • 2021 46th INHIGEO Symposium, Poland
  • 2021 26th International Congress of History of Science and Technology (ICHST), Prague, 25–31 July, organized by IUHPST/DHST
  • 2021 GSA-HAPG, Portland, Oregon, 10–13 October
  • 2022 47th INHIGEO Symposium, Russia
  • 2022 GSA-HAPG, Denver, Colorado, 9–12 October
  • 2023 48th INHIGEO Symposium, TBD
  • 2023 GSA-HAPG, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15–18 October
  • 2024 49th INHIGEO Symposium, South Korea (with 37th International Geological Congress)
  • 2024 GSA-HAPG, Anaheim, California, 22–25 September
  • 2025 GSA-HAPG, San Antonio, Texas, 19–22 October
  • 2026 GSA-HAPG, Denver, Colorado, 11–14 October 

When registering for the GSA, HESS members should register as members of an
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Some helpful resources for the history of geology are listed below. Please let us know of digital projects and online resources pertaining to the history of geology and we will add them to this list.


The editors of HoST- Journal of History of Science and Technology are looking for proposals for two thematic issues to be published in 2020 (HoST volume 14, issues 1 and 2). 
Deadline: 30 May, 2018
Weblink: http://ciuhct.org/pt/call-thematic-issue-2020-host