Stéphane Castonguay, The Government of Natural Resources: Science, Territory, and State Power in Quebec, 1867–1939 – UBC Press, April 2021 (paperback due January 2022)
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.