Cover: The Government of Natural Resources: Science, Territory, and State Power in Quebec, 1867-1939, by Stephane Castonguay. black and white photo: a white man crouched beside a scientific device in the middle of a field, pouring liquid into a beaker.
240 pages, 6 x 9
12 b&w photographs, 21 maps, 12 charts/diagrams, 4 tables
Release Date:15 Jan 2022
Release Date:15 Apr 2021
Release Date:15 Apr 2021
Release Date:15 Apr 2021

The Government of Natural Resources

Science, Territory, and State Power in Quebec, 1867–1939

By Stéphane Castonguay; Foreword by Graeme Wynn; Translated by Käthe Roth
UBC Press

The Government of Natural Resources explores the development of scientific and technical activity in Quebec from Confederation until the eve of the Second World War. At the turn of the twentieth century, the provincial government created scientific services in geology, forestry, fishery, and agronomy, with the goal of exploiting natural resources and occupying territory. The new services sought to amass a corps of skilled employees to support this mission, readily supplied by universities that were producing their first graduates from recently established technical programs.

Scientific and technical personnel are an often quiet presence within the state, but they play an integral role. By tracing the history of mining, logging, hunting, fishing, and agriculture in Quebec, Stéphane Castonguay reveals how territorial and environmental transformations through scientific activity became a tool of government.

The production of knowledge about a territory and its natural resources is a key element in power relations, making an active contribution to state formation and the expansion of administrative capacity. The lessons that this thoughtful reconceptualization of resource development offers reach well beyond provincial borders, changing the way we think of science and state power.

Scholars and students of environmental history, the history of science, historical geography, Quebec studies, Canadian history, political science, and science and technology studies will be among the diverse readers for this important work.

The author provides great detail on the history of technical and scientific advances in the four natural resource areas of Quebec from 1867 to 1939. J. Organ, emeritus, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Choice Connect
In meticulously detailed chapters devoted to the development of mining, forestry, wildlife conservation, and agriculture, Casonguay shows how Quebec took control of its resources. Geoff White, Literary Review of Canada
This book invites us to understand Quebec from a decentralized view, to look beyond what is happening in the capital in order to see the peripheries and the relationships among regions. This new approach is essential for analyzing the complex trajectories of natural resources in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. Guy Chiasson, from a review in Cahiers de géographie du Québec
This book’s greatest strength is that it demonstrates, in great detail, that the Quebec state was born long before the Quiet Revolution. Guy Gaudreau, from a review in Scientia Canadensis
Castonguay is an informed and spirited guide ... to the role of technoscience in the elaboration and modernization of the Quebec state, its administrative capacities, and its territory. From the Foreword by Graeme Wynn

Stéphane Castonguay is a professor of environmental history and Quebec studies at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières and former Canada Research Chair in Environmental History (2003–13). He is also the author of Protection des cultures, construction de la nature: L'entomologie économique au Canada, 1884–1959, and co-editor, with Matthew Evenden, of Urban Rivers: Re-making Rivers, Cities, and Space in Europe and North America and, with Michèle Dagenais, of Metropolitan Natures: Environmental Histories of Montreal. Käthe Roth has been a literary translator for more than thirty years.

Foreword: Science in Action / Graeme Wynn


1 The Administrative Capacities of the Quebec State: Specialized Personnel and Technoscientific Interventions

2 The Invention of a Mining Space: Geological Exploration and Mineralogical Knowledge

3 Soil Classification and Separation of Forest and Colonization Areas: Scientific Forestry and Reforestation

4 Surveillance and Improvement of Fish and Game Territories: Conservation of Wildlife Resources

5 Regionalization and Specialization of Agricultural Production: Disseminating Agronomic Knowledge

Conclusion: Knowledge, Power, and Territory

Appendix: Identification of Technoscientific Activities in the Public Accounts (1896–1940)

Notes; Bibliography; Index

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