Speaker shown on screen in lecture hall

World History Association annual meeting 2023 Recap

Pittsburgh 2323: Energies

The World History Association, in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh’s World History Center, held its 2023 Annual Meeting in “Steel City” Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA from June 22-June 24. The theme of this year’s WHA meeting was ENERGIES where scholars from across the globe will had the opportunity to present new and innovative research on a vast array of energy-related topics.

Despite its earlier smoggy, steel mill town reputation, parts of Pittsburgh have become vibrant and cosmopolitan. Pittsburgh itself located in a beautiful green, river valley, what only slightly smoky skies. The University of Pittsburgh is located near Carnegie Mellon University and the area between is filled with museums and eateries making for an interesting and lively scene.

Brian Black gave the opening keynote address, “To Have and Have Not: Tracing a World History with Energy at its Core”. Many of the presentations had an energy these, but there were several of special interest to the HistoryQuant community, such as

  • Energy, Labour and Global Commodities in Colonial South Asia (John Lourdusamy, Surabhi Rani Verma, Mahendranath Sudhindranath, Amil Varghese)
  • Panel: Meta Discourses on Energy and World History (Thanasis Kinias, Theodore J. Drizis, Shari Tarbet, Maximilian Barnett, Andrew Wender)
  • Panel: Energies and Activism in World History (Carl Nightingale, Theodore J. Drizis, Nicolas Lepine, Johann JK Reusch, Yufeng Wang)
  • Panel: The Power of Stardust: Using Big History to Understand Energy Flows in World History (Hybrid) (Maximillian Barnett, Andrey Korotayev, David LePoire, Esther Quaedackers)
  • Panel: Fossil Fuels in the 20th Century

  • “Energy: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis?” (Victor Seow)
  • “The Whole Shebang: A History of Leaders and Movements Concerning Governance Via Energy Accounting and Distribution” (presented by the author of this post).

On a bittersweet note, WHA Executive Director of Kerry Vieira will be retiring from the WHA to pursue other opportunities.

At the end of this post is a link to a full schedule (373 KB PDF).


2022 Updates—Focus on Irreversible Processes

2022 was a year of exceptional personal challenges, providing special inspiration for deeper study concerning irreversible processes and related thermodynamics.

Several remote presentation were given:

  • World History Association annual meeting titled “Irreversible Processes
    in History”, World History Association Annual Conference, (Remote), Bilbao, Spain, June 23-25, 2022.
  • “Workshop: Feeding Empires—Quantitative, Digital & Graphic Simulations for History Using Food Cases”, World History Association Annual Conference, (Remote), Bilbao, Spain, June 23-25, 2022.
  • “Modeling Historical Dynasties as Emergent, Dissipative Mechanisms”, Thermodynamics 2.0 Conference, International Association for the Integration of Science and Engineering, Boone, North Carolina, July 19, 2022. (See paper here).
  • “Panel: Unity of Sciences”, Chair, Thermodynamics 2.0 Conference, International Association for the Integration of Science and Engineering, Boone, North Carolina, July 20, 2022.
Organization names arranged in circle around physical history.

Organizations related to physical history

Autumn 2021 Updates

Energy and Society Series

Covid restrictions have continued to limit in person conference activity. Conversely, remote events have the ability to more easily include people from a wider range of physical locations. In that light, a series of live Energy and Society presenter here help, and the videos videos of those presentations were posted online afterwards. The series covered topics ranging from how life emerged from natural patterns of energy, to ideas about resource management and governance, and the place of humanity in the Universe both in the past and the future.

Apple TV Asimov Foundation series commentary

As warned in a letter to the American Historical Association, “Wake-Up Call: Technologists’ Take of History Is Coming to HBO” (1 February 2015), a television series portrayal of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation science fiction story series has been in the works. The project was dropped by HBO but reconstituted by Apple TV.

Due to the publicity this television series raised concerning Asimov’s stories about a science of society and its practitioners, a paper was presented at the 2021 Social Science History Association called “A Simulation and Critique of Asimov’s Foundation Series: What Works and Fails“. That paper is written up and here available at Academia.com. It should be noted that the television series and the books share little in common except some of the character names.

World History Association Conference

The following talks were given remotely to the World History Association.

  • “Hype or Substance? Applying Artificial Intelligence to the Sustainability of Dynasties Over 3500 Years of World History”, World History Association Annual Conference, Remote, 22 – 24 June 2021.
  • “Teaching Workshop: World History Digital Lightning Talks”, World History Association Annual Conference, Remote, 22 – 24 June 2021.

News from the 2015 AHA Annual Meeting

AHA 2015 Annual Meeting Banner Logo

The 2015 AHA Annual Meeting demonstrated the rapid influx of digital technology and even the “hard” sciences into the realm of historical research. Sessions of particular interest included The Resurgence of Science in Historical Method and History and Biology: History and Evolution. Such has not been without controversy, as demonstrated by Ethan Kleinberg’s talk Just the Facts: The Fantasy of a Historical Science. There were too many digital humanities sessions to mention here.

HistoryQuant’s Mark Ciotola gave a lightning talk on Developing Ruby Programming Simulations for History and Using R for Visualization. Relevant links follow: