2022 Call for Papers

Water at the Confluence of Past and Future

The Utah State Historical Society and Utah Division of State History invite proposals for papers, sessions, panels, or multi-media presentations for the 70th annual history conference this fall. Scholars, researchers, educators, students, and members of the public are encouraged to submit proposals that explore the connection of water to our collective past and future.

Date: Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Location: Provo Marriott Hotel and Convention Center, 101 West 100 North, Provo, Utah

Proposals Due: April 30, 2022

The Great Salt Lake—one of Utah’s foremost symbols—is facing pressures like never before in modern history. Climate change, urban growth, water diversions, and benign neglect all threaten the future of this body of water that lies at the center of complex ecosystems, as well as our collective cultural identity. Everywhere else in our state and region the same is happening—lakes and rivers are drying and winter snowpacks are shrinking, threatening countless industries and challenging accustomed ways of living on the land.

As we come to grips with drought conditions forecasted as the new normal, the 2022 Program Committee invites proposals from history and allied fields that open interdisciplinary dialogue, and join past with present as we look to shape our shared future. We welcome practitioners in history, the humanities, social sciences, and humanistic environmental sciences to examine themes centered on water in the formation and development of political systems, social structures, and cultural identities across Utah and the Intermountain West.

The moment is ripe to bring interdisciplinary perspectives to bear on the place of water in our society—and our obligations to safeguard it for future generations. History offers crucial foundations for addressing pressing issues that connect water with living communities. For example, the Colorado River Compact, established in 1922 as the cornerstone of the Law of the River, has for a century governed the use and allocation of the Colorado River and its watershed. The agreement is up for renewal in 2026. This year’s centennial invites historical perspectives along with those of legal experts, water managers, and public officials working to set future management priorities in the Colorado River Basin.

The theme lends itself to a diverse range of inquiries, which may include: 

  • Institutional structures framing water rights, systems, and access (legal, local, state, tribal, interstate, federal, etc.)
  • Indigenous forms of knowledge, belief, use, and management (First Peoples through today) 
  • Immigrant/settler and other traditional forms of belief and praxis relating to water
  • Inequities in water access, public health, sanitation, water works
  • Natural resource stewardship, ownership, management
  • Environmental and climatic events
  • Water quality, remediation, restoration
  • Tourism, recreation, and amenity-based development in rural and urban areas
  • Agricultural, industrial, and urban water uses
  • Urban planning, sprawl, and suburban developmental impacts on water systems
  • Technology, infrastructure, and innovation; adaptations to unpredictable natural systems
  • Transportation and communication surrounding water
  • Sense of place, spiritual and/or religious meanings of water
  • Water and nature as metaphor in literature, art, and popular culture
  • Connecting inland waters to the “Blue Humanities”

We welcome a variety of formats, from traditional panels and sessions to more innovative formats. When appropriate, we will suggest combinations of sessions with other panels and presentations to allow for a dynamic conference. This year we are also accepting poster session submissions.

In crafting your proposal, consider what colleagues can learn from you, your organization, and others as you strive to: 

  • Promote the relevance of history: understanding the past to apply and learn in the present 
  • Make connections from your work and studies to the future of the history sector 
  • Support one another in developing emerging research and creative outlets for history 

Submissions must include:

  • Title of Proposal: individual or session/panel proposal 
  • Individual paper or session/panel abstract: Describe the goals of your paper or session, specifically describing its content and expected outcomes for attendees. Highlight the central issues the proposal addresses, why they are significant to the field, and how the content supports the theme. Be as clear and concise as possible. Submissions for entire sessions or panels should also include a brief abstract that outlines the purpose of the session. (500 word max) 
  • List presenters; all presenters (including the moderator) must provide a bio with their name, address, and phone number (each 100 words max) 
  • Takeaways: In one sentence, describe how your session will impact its attendees. Then describe the takeaways in clear bullet points. (100 words max)
  • Audio-visual needs: If your proposal is accepted, your agreement to participate in the conference allows for photography and/or visual recording of your presentations for Division marketing and online use.

The deadline for individual or full-session proposals is April 30, 2022.

The deadline for poster session proposals is June 30, 2022

For more information and to submit your proposal, visit our conference website.

This year’s conference may share some content and overlapping thematic conversations with the Utah Museums Association (UMA) annual conference and their theme “Futuring Through Museums.” We are working on arrangements to hold our annual history conference at the same venue, and with some programming overlap, with the UMA conference. Through this collaboration, Utah history conference participants will have the opportunity to engage with UMA attendees and make connections to public history outlets from across the state. Please direct questions to Jedediah Rogers or Holly George, 2022 program co-chairs, at [email protected].