Journals

  • Canada’s Shifting Energy Sources: A Comparison with eight European Countries, 1870–2000

    Written by guest blogger, Richard W. Unger.

    Canadians are among the greatest consumers of energy per person in the world. Iceland, with abundant geothermal sources and a small population, is the only country with a consistently higher level of energy use. Even the people in the United States fall behind Canadians in consuming energy. Those living in the ‘true North’ have been leaders on the planet for the last two centuries and probably even longer. Until the first decade of the twentieth century the majority of that energy came from fuelwood. Industrialization promoted a shift to fossil fuels. By 1903, coal supplied more energy than fuelwood. By 1955, oil exceeded coal as a source of energy. And by 1996, natural gas passed oil as an energy source for Canadians. In 2000, oil and natural gas provided almost equal amounts of energy while primary electricity, produced by wind or water power, supplied a bit more than half of either of the other two. That pattern of a series of shifts through fossil fuels was typical of countries in North America and western Europe over the last 150 years. Whatever the source, Canadians used a lot of energy.

    Postage stamp In 1983 Poste Canada Post issued a stamp as part of its Heritage Artifacts series of a woodstove, the principal device for consuming massive quantities of fuelwood in the nineteenth and for many years in the twentieth century. It joined items like skates, a decoy, a bucket and other humble household items that were part of daily life.

    Energy consumption per person in Canada was already high compared to other jurisdictions in the world through the first half of the twentieth century. Surprisingly, and despite the established position of the country as a leader in energy consumption per person, people in Canada began to use considerably more through the 1960s. Between 1958 to 1973, per capita energy consumption in Canada rose 74 percent. Countries in Europe saw sharp rises in energy use starting in the 1950s. Many of them were recovering from the destruction of World War II and also from the massive disruption in their economies that were created by the war. It was also a period when the full force of the Industrial Revolution reached parts of southern Europe, where a more traditional and agrarian economy still dominated.

    Energy Consumption per capita Lines indicate 1958 and 1973 Now the Adam Beck Hydroelectric Generating Stations in Niagara Falls, Ontario, uses waters from the Welland River to produce electricity for the provincial power grid. Subsequently expanded, when it opened in 1922 as the Queenston-Chippawa Hydroelectric Plant it was the largest hydroelectric generating station in the world. Canada remains among the few countries most reliant on falling water to produce electric power.

    While the increase in energy consumption in Europe during the 1960s is relatively easy to explain, the same cannot be said for what happened in Canada. In the same fifteen years that Canadians on average increased energy consumption 74 percent, consumption per person in Sweden rose at the same rate during a period of rapid economic growth in manufacturing and starting from a lower base. Sweden experienced the greatest increase among eight European states for which data are easily available - England and Wales together, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. Over the same period, France saw a rise of just 58 percent and Germany, going through the Wirtschaftswunder, a considerably lower 43 percent. Canada was already well ahead of those countries in 1958. The gap widened in the 1960s despite the fact that the percentage rate of growth could be, in the extreme case of Sweden, similar. Canadians in 1958 were consuming 1.66 times as much energy as Swedes but in 1973 the figure was 1.71.

    The growth in energy use in the years just before the first oil crisis came at a time when all countries were becoming more efficient, getting more value in the goods they produced from each unit of energy they used. It was part of a long-term trend throughout the twentieth century. Again, surprisingly, Canada was able in the same fifteen years from 1958 to 1973 to increase efficiency by some 7 percent while Sweden, increasing per capita consumption as much as Canada, saw almost no improvement in efficiency.

    Alberta tar sandsThe Athabasca Tar Sands in Alberta, known since the eighteenth century, have long been thought a potential source of petroleum. Efforts like those shown here between 1900 and 1930 to exploit the abundant reserves proved futile. Technological advances and rising oil prices only made that possible in the latter years of the twentieth century. Library and Archives Canada, 3592868.

    The comparison of what happened in Canada with what happened in other countries is the topic of my article “Shifting Energy Sources in Canada: An International Comparison, 1870-2000,” recently published in the Canadian Journal of History special issue on the Material Realities of Energy History. This comparison can reveal a great deal about anomalies, as well as what was important to Canada’s pattern of energy use. Laying the data side-by-side reveals differences and suggests where it might be possible to identify distinct features as well as causes of changes within the energy economy of the country. The changing suppliers of energy, and their relative importance over time, has always had an impact on the environment. Comparisons can point to the sensitive times when those shifts took place and so offer indications of where and when to look for the role of final energy users in shaping the landscape. With eight different European countries with different climates and histories there are benchmarks against which to measure what happened in Canada. While the comparisons point to differences that set each of the political units apart, it proves hard to explain why those differences have appeared and why they may have persisted.

    Adam Beck Complex
    In the years from 1958 to 1973 energy consumption in Canada moved rapidly higher, extending even more its lead over eight European countries which were enjoying rapid economic growth in those years. See text.

    When looking at energy use, Canada is similar to many European countries but different in other ways. The comparison points to questions about the energy history of Canada that could yield productive and informative research. The strange drive in Canada during the 1960s to surge even further ahead of European countries in using fossil fuels, even when those European countries were themselves sharply increasing their energy consumption, is just one anomaly that sets Canada apart. Many possible explanations come to mind, yet preliminary and straightforward tests of the obvious reasons do not yield expected results. It is hard to establish why Canada was different. The preliminary investigation of some of the most obvious explanations such as the nature of climate, different resource endowment, levels of incomes per person in the article yield mixed results. Reasons for different patterns of energy consumption may well be complex. There are many other questions to test that emerge almost automatically from looking at Canada’s energy history in light of what went on elsewhere. Finding answers to those questions offers the potential for extensive productive research for anyone willing to take on the task.

    Banner: Horsepower replaced gasoline-powered engines during the worst years of the Great Depression. Called Bennett buggies after the prime minister, R. B. Bennett, this one is crossing the campus of the University of Saskatchewan in about 1935.

    Richard W. Unger is Professor Emeritus in the Department of History, University of British Columbia. His work has concentrated on the economy of pre-modern Europe, principally of the shipping and brewing sectors, as well as Canadian energy consumption. Read his article in the latest issue of CJH, “Shifting Energy Sources in Canada: An International Comparison, 1870–2000”—free for a limited time here.

  • Supply or Demand? Integrating Perspectives on the Historical Transition from Coal to Hydrocarbons

    Written by guest bloggers, Odinn Melsted and Irene Pallua.

    Icons COAL OIL and NATURAL GAS

    Since the mid twentieth century, oil and natural gas – in short: hydrocarbons – have been the dominant energy carriers in industrialized countries. They have been the main energy providers for cars, trucks, ships, airplanes, industries and home heating. What is often overlooked is that the rise of hydrocarbons meant the decline of coal. At the midpoint of the twentieth century, coal was still the fuel of choice in railroad and maritime transportation, for industrial production, in residential heating, as well as electricity production. Yet between the 1940s and 1970s, a relatively short period of time in energy history, coal was largely pushed aside by hydrocarbon alternatives. Recent research on historical transitions and today’s practical experiences in attempting to implement a renewable energy transition have, however, revealed that incumbent energy systems tend to be resistant to change. How, then, could hydrocarbons take over so quickly?

    graphs

    Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES) in the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) area. Own figure based on data from Arnulf Grübler, “Energy Transitions,” in: Cutler Cleveland, ed. Encyclopedia of Earth (Washington, D.C.: National Council for Science and the Environment, 2008.

    One of the main challenges when dealing with energy history is to assess the scale of a transition. One way of doing so is to take a look at historical energy data. The figures above show Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES) in OECD countries from 1900 to 2000 for different energy carriers. The graph on the left depicts the absolute values of energy carriers in exajoules. Here we can see that oil and natural gas multiplied between 1940 and 1970, accounting for much of the simultaneous increase in overall energy supply. In addition, we can identify a diversification from coal to multiple fuels. On the right, the figure shows the same data as relative shares, which reveals that coal lost its dominance in the energy mix as hydrocarbons took over. By looking at both absolute values and relative shares, we can see that coal clearly lost its dominant position to hydrocarbons, but at the same time maintained a status quo; its total supply only decreased slightly at first and then actually increased in the long run. How can this contradiction be explained? In what context did hydrocarbons replace coal, and what accounts for the continuing importance of coal in the energy mix?

    Those are some of the questions we deal with in our article entitled “The Historical Transition from Coal to Hydrocarbons: Previous Explanations and the Need for an Integrative Perspective”, which appears in the Canadian Journal of History’s special issue on the Material Realities of Energy Histories. We are currently both PhD candidates at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and have been working on dissertation projects on the history of energy. As we both focus on continuities and changes in the use of different energy carriers in the second half of the twentieth century (Odinn Melsted on Iceland’s energy system and Irene Pallua on the Swiss heating sector), we have been faced with the challenge of explaining how and why the transition from coal to hydrocarbons took place so quickly in so many different parts of the industrialized world. We each discovered that the existing literature on energy history only marginally deals with the question of why hydrocarbons replaced coal. All too often, oil and natural gas are portrayed as the superior fuels that were bound to take over from coal inevitably. When diving deeper into the vast literature on coal, oil and natural gas, the changes in energy supply systems, evolution of industries, transportation and heating, however, we discovered that many causal explanations have already been provided. Yet the disparity of the literature has made it difficult to grasp them and see them in the context of the over-arching transition from coal to hydrocarbons.

    black and white photograph

    black and white photograph

    black and white photograph

    Coal was long the fuel of choice for steam locomotives, industrial production and residential heating, but largely replaced with hydrocarbons in the mid twentieth century. This was due to a variety of causes, ranging from competitive prices and policy to limit smoke pollution, to the physical advantages of hydrocarbons, which are lighter, cleaner, have a higher energy density and are easier to control in combustion than coal. Pictures: Wikimedia Commons.

    In the article, we draw together the causal explanations for the transition from coal to hydrocarbons. One of the problems we discovered in the research process is that the literature presents a gap between two perspectives: one on energy “supply” and another on “consumption.” The supply perspective focuses on the diversification of the overall energy supply system, where oil and natural gas were introduced to formerly coal-dominated energy economies. The consumption perspective, on the other hand, focuses on how consumers in different areas of the energy economy decided to switch from coal to hydrocarbon alternatives.

    We therefore integrated these perspectives and conceptualized the shift from coal to hydrocarbons as a complex transition that occurred at two levels. On the one hand, hydrocarbons became available as alternatives to coal at the level of energy supply, which created favourable circumstances for energy consumers to shift to hydrocarbons. On the other hand, individual energy consumers in railway and maritime transportation, residential heating, industrial production, and electricity generation actively decided to use hydrocarbon alternatives as substitutions for coal. By revisiting the explanations of the rising use of hydrocarbon energies in the mid twentieth century, we hope to direct attention to this hitherto understudied, yet nonetheless decisive transition in energy history and present an innovative approach to the analysis of historical fuel transitions.

    Odinn Melsted is the recipient of a DOC-fellowship of the Austrian Academy of the Sciences at the Department of History and European Ethnology at University of Innsbruck. His doctoral project deals with Iceland’s low-carbon transition during 1940–1990 and has also been supported by the Landsvirkjun Energy Research Fund.

    Irene Pallua is a PhD candidate at the Department of History and European Ethnology at University of Innsbruck. Her main research interest is in history of energy at the juncture of technology, society, and the environment. She is currently working on her PhD project on the history of heating in Swiss households.

    Read their article in the latest issue of CJH, “The Historical Transition from Coal to Hydrocarbons: Previous Explanations and the Need for an Integrative Perspective”—free for a limited time here.

  • Cold War Entanglements, Third World Solidarities: Vietnam and Palestine, 1967–75

    Written by guest blogger, Evyn Lê Espiritu.

    In recent years, activist solidarity with the ongoing Palestinian liberation struggle against Zionist erasure has been gaining national momentum and visibility.  In 2016, for example, the Movement for Black Lives Statement (M4BL) included language critiquing the US’s alliance with the State of Israel and, by extension, American complicity with the displacement and genocide of the native Palestinian people.  In summer 2018, following Israel’s violent military response to the Great March of Return, M4BL reaffirmed its demand that the US end its financial and political support of Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.  Rather than remain at the level of abstraction, such solidarity rhetoric was grounded in historical and contemporary linkages between the situated struggles of Palestinians and African Americans against entwined processes of settler colonialism, racism, and segregation.  In the words of a recent M4BL statement: “We understand that we are connected to the Palestinian people by our shared demand for recognition and justice and our long histories of displacement, discrimination and violence.”  Palestinian activists, in turn, expressed solidarity with M4BL, citing parallels between occupation in Palestine and Ferguson.

    In light of these articulations of situated solidarity, the research and writing of my recent article in Canadian Review of American Studies, “Cold War Entanglements, Third World Solidarities: Vietnam and Palestine, 1967–75,” was driven by my desire to connect contemporary solidarity with Palestine with my own historical inheritances as a second generation Asian American and daughter and granddaughter of Vietnamese refugees on my mother’s side.  In other words, I was motivated by a desire to ground my solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle in the specificity of my situated positionality.  In 2013, the Association of Asian American Studies passed a Resolution to Support the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions, affirming its mission to “advance a critique of U.S. empire, opposing US military occupation in the Arab world and U.S. support for occupation and racist practices by the Israeli state.”  Shaped by histories of American imperialism, militarism, and capitalism in the Asian Pacific, Asian Americans are intimately familiar with formations of U.S. empire and therefore uniquely positioned to critique contemporary imperial intervention in the Middle East.  But what about Vietnamese Americans and Vietnamese history more specifically?

    The late 1960s moment was one of anticolonial struggle and Third World Solidarity.  In particular, two major wars in the Global South would influence American geopolitics and shift the balance of world power: the American War in Vietnam (1954-1975) and the June War in Israel-Palestine (1967).  While the former would precipitate the unprecedented defeat of the American superpower, inspiring anti-colonial and anti-imperial struggles around the world, that latter would dramatically expand Israeli occupation over the West Bank and Gaza and consolidate American military and financial support of the Zionist nation-state.

    The fates of Vietnam and Palestine, and their concurrent anti-colonial struggles for national independence, were thus entangled.  American withdrawal from Vietnam was motivated in part by a decision to strengthen military presence in the Middle East, in an attempt to curb the threat of Soviet Union influence in the area.  Yet the shared histories of these two revolutionary struggles has been largely neglected by scholarship on the Cold War, American empire, or the Global South, in part due to area studies divisions that dictate the cartographies of knowledge production.

    This article seeks to rectify this gap in scholarship by charting political entanglements and demonstrations of solidarity between Vietnam and Palestine that have been structured both by and in spite of US imperialism.  Wary of reproducing American exceptionalism by re-centering the US in its critique of American empire, this article highlights direct articulations of solidarity between Vietnamese and Palestinian freedom fighters from 1967 to 1975, drawing from archival research conducted at the Institute of Palestine Studies (IPS) in Ramallah.  For example, in a message to the International Conference for the Support of Arab Peoples held in Cairo on 24 January 1969, Vietnamese anti-colonial leader Hồ Chí Minh asserted that the “Vietnamese people vehemently condemn the Israeli aggressors” and “fully support the Palestinian people’s liberation movement and the struggle of the Arab people for the liberation of territories occupied by Israeli forces.”  Likewise, in a press interview conducted in 1970, Palestinian Liberation Executive Committee Chairman Yasser Arafat affirmed the “firm relationship between the Palestinian revolution and the Vietnam revolution through the experience provided to us by the heroic people of Vietnam and their mighty revolution.”  On a more quotidian level, following General Võ Nguyên Giáp’s unexpected victory over the French colonists in the 1954 Battle of Điện Biên Phủ, Palestinian soldiers took inspiration from the Vietnamese and adopted the nickname “Giap.”  Remembrances of this historical moment of solidarity still exist today.  When I conducted research in the West Bank in 2016, I was often asked my ethnicity.  When I mentioned that I was half-Vietnamese, some of the older men exclaimed excitedly and shared memories of their celebration of the Vietnamese victory over the French and then the Americans, drawing parallels with their own experiences of struggle against Israeli occupation.

    While I draw inspiration from these Third World articulations of Global South solidarity, I also remain cognizant that Asian American Studies and postcolonial studies, rooted in a legacy of leftist political activism, have a tendency to romanticize the anti-colonial rhetoric of revolutionary leaders such as Yasser Arafat and Hồ Chí Minh, ignoring the violent byproducts of their state-building projects.  As a child of a Vietnamese refugee and subject of the South Vietnamese diaspora—many of whom were displaced by the very Communist state established in Vietnam in the wake of Hồ Chí Minh’s death—I also want to take seriously critiques of the Vietnamese Communist state’s retributive justice against the South Vietnamese anti-Communists and its continual human rights abuses against its citizens, as voiced by members of the South Vietnamese diaspora as well as Vietnamese human rights activists currently working in Vietnam.

    As an Asian American and South Vietnamese diasporic—that is, as the inheritor of both leftist, anti-imperial politics as well as insistent criticisms of the Vietnamese Communist party—I am motivated by a desire to reconcile these seeming political contradictions between the revolutionary rhetoric of Hồ Chí Minh and the oppressive control of the Vietnamese Communist party.  Here, I turn to postcolonial feminist Neferti Tadiar’s concept of “divine sorrow,” which dwells with the residual affective ghosts of Vietnam’s painful war-torn past.  According to the current Communist Party in Vietnam, 1975 marked a moment of revolutionary victory: independence from American imperialism and the fulfillment of the late Hồ Chí Minh’s Communist plan.  However, the concept of “divine sorrow” entails a rejection of this state-sponsored narrative of teleological success— which works to silence critiques of the current Vietnamese government’s human rights abuses and curtail other political imaginaries— in favor of pre-1975 Third World Liberationist revolutionary promise. “Promise” here refers to the radical potentiality of multiplicitous revolutionary futures, too soon foreclosed by the Vietnamese State’s monopolistic consolidation of political power.

    In the 1960-70s, it was North Vietnam’s revolutionary victory that heartened and inspired Palestinian freedom fighters struggling for their own national liberation.  In the contemporary moment, in the wake of Vietnam’s seemingly concluded revolution, it is perhaps the ongoing Palestinian liberation movement that could stimulate today’s Vietnamese activists to reactivate the revolutionary potentials of their seemingly foreclosed anti-colonial struggle and hold the contemporary Vietnamese state accountable to its own revolutionary ideals.

    Photo of Evyn Lê Espiritu

    Evyn Lê Espiritu is a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow of Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies at College of the Holy Cross. Her research engages with critical refugee studies, settler colonial studies, trans-Pacific studies, and diaspora theory, and has been published in Canadian Review of American Studies, Amerasia, qui parle, and LIT: Literature, Interpretation, Theory.  She is currently working on a book manuscript tentatively entitled Archipelago of Resettlement: Vietnamese Refugee Settlers in Guam and Israel-Palestine.

    Read Evyn Lê Espiritu’s recent article in the CRAS Special Issue on Vietnam, War, and the Global Imagination “Cold War Entanglements, Third World Solidarities: Vietnam and Palestine, 1967–75”—free for a limited time on UTP Journals Online.

  • UTP Journals 12 Days of Reading

    Get inside, make a cup of tea, and put on those big fluffy socks—because there is no better time to read than over the holidays. 12 Days of Reading gives you an opportunity to enjoy a curated selection of some of the world’s best research. Best of all, every one of these articles is free-to-read until the New Year, so make sure your friends and family learn about these great articles too!

    12 Days of Reading

    And just to help you out even more (we’re really feeling generous this year), we’ve put together a handy guide to figure out what articles might interest you most:

    If you still can’t figure out what to read, just check out the full list of articles below. Every one of them is a perfect conversation starter at family dinners (Disclaimer: we shall not be held responsible for holiday disputes). We hope you enjoy this list as much as we do!

    1. Joy in Labour: The Politicization of Craft from the Arts and Crafts Movement to Etsy (CRAS 44.2, 2014)
    2. The Relationship between Food Banks and Household Food Insecurity among Low-Income Toronto Families (CPP 38.4, 2012)
    3. If God Got Us: Kendrick Lamar, Paul Tillich, and the Advent of Existentialist Hip Hop (TJT 33.1, 2017)
    4. Gender identity, gender pronouns, and freedom of expression: Bill C-16 and the traction of specious legal claims (UTLJ 68.1, 2018)
    5. Taking “Culture” out of Multiculturalism (CJWL 26.1, 2014)
    6. Ten Years of Mi’gmaq Language Revitalization Work: A Non-Indigenous Applied Linguist Reflects on Building Research Relationships (CMLR 73.4, 2017)
    7. Holiday at the Banff School of Fine Arts: The Cinematic Production of Culture, Nature, and Nation in the Canadian Rockies, 1945-1952 (JCS 39.1, 2004)
    8. Signifyin(g) When Vexed: Black Feminist Revision, Anger, and A Raisin in the Sun (MD 60.2, 2017)
    9. Time Wasting and the Contemporary Television-Viewing Experience (UTQ 86.4, 2017)
    10. Family Matters: The Work and Skills of Family/Friend Carers in Long-Term Residential Care (JCS 50.2, 2016)
    11. Fasts, Thanksgivings, and Senses of Community in Nineteenth-Century Canada and the British Empire (CHR 98.4, 2017)
    12. Oh-oh Canada: Sweet Treats for Unsettling Futures (CTR 174, 2018)

    Happy Reading!

    Join the Conversation
    #12DaysofReading

  • The Journal of Comparative Family Studies joins the University of Toronto Press Journals

    JCFS joins UTP Journals

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    University of Toronto Press is pleased to announce that the Journal of Comparative Family Studies has joined UTP’s Journals publishing program.

    The Journal of Comparative Family Studies (JCFS) was established in 1970 to publish high quality articles based on research in comparative and cross-cultural family studies. The journal promotes a better understanding of both intra- and inter-ethnic family interaction that is essential for all multicultural societies. It draws articles from social science researchers around the world and contains valuable material for Sociologists, Anthropologists, Family Counselors and Social Psychologists. JCFS publishes peer-reviewed articles, research notes, and book reviews four times per year.

    “The Journal of Comparative Family Studies continues the vision of founder Dr. George Kurian in providing high quality, comparative and cross cultural family research. We are excited to partner with the University of Toronto Press, a world class Canadian publisher, in order to expand and grow the availability and impact of JCFS. We look forward to being better able to serve our current and future subscribers with this new partnership.” – Todd Martin, Ph.D., CFLE, Managing Editor, JCFS

    “We are delighted to welcome Journal of Comparative Family Studies to the UTP Journals collection. JCFS is a vital resource in the field of family studies and will make a significant contribution to UTP’s long-standing tradition of scholarly publishing excellence. We look forward to working closely with JCFS authors and sharing this crucial research with current and future readers.” – Antonia Pop, Director, University of Toronto Press Journals.

    Early in 2019, the Journal of Comparative Family Studies’s complete archive of articles will be available online at https://www.utpjournals.press/jcfs.

    To sign up to receive important news relating to the Journal of Comparative Family Studies visit http://bit.ly/JCFSnews

     

    For more information, please contact:

    Vesna Micic
    Sales and Marketing Manager, Journals
    vmicic@utpress.utoronto.ca

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