WEHC 2022

XIX WORLD ECONOMIC HISTORY CONGRESS (25-29 July 2022, Paris, France)

Double session: 'Transnational nuclear resources: mining, industrial uses and waste management'


Dear colleagues,

We would like to invite you to submit a paper proposal to the double session Transnational nuclear resources: mining, industrial uses and waste management, a session to take place within the XIX World Economic History Congress (25-29 July 2022, Paris, France). We aim to discuss about the development of nuclear uses from an international historical perspective, giving particular emphasis to the following broad topics (full abstract of the session below) 

1) The creation of the industrial and financial frameworks required for the development of civil nuclear programs (industrial, agricultural, health and biological uses, etc). 
2) The business history of the companies involved with nuclear programs or the development of individual nuclear projects. 
3) The economic aspects of the fuel cycle: mining, processing, enrichment, fabrication of fuel elements and disposal (in conjunction or individually taken). 
4) The impact of foreign nuclear agents (multinationals, governments, international organisations) on improving the industrial, organisational, and technological capabilities of host economies. 
5) Business histories dealing with the impact of the atom in the military industry may also be proposed.


Esther M. Sánchez Sánchez, Universidad de Salamanca, esther.sanchez@usal.es 
M. del Mar Rubio-Varas, Universidad Pública de Navarra, mar.rubio@unavarra.es 
Joseba De la Torre, Universidad Pública de Navarra, jdelatorre@unavarra.es 

Please send your proposal title and short abstract together with a short cv (abstract and cv preferably fit in one page) to the session organisers (CC all three of us), indicating whether you intend to participate in person or online (the organisation allows for hybrid sessions).

The deadline for submitting proposals is the 1st February 2022. Acceptance or rejection will be notified by 1st March 2022. If selected, authors will be required to submit full papers by 1st June 2022.

Feel free to forward the call to those you think may be interested.


Nuclear applications received a great impulse from the WWII. They were worldwide designed as guarantee of international recognition, assurance of national autonomy, symbol of modernization and an opportunity for economic growth. From then until now, the nuclear option has involved, because of its complexity and costs, a large number of economic, business and political decisions, affecting the whole uranium fuel cycle. Great decisions appear, for instance, in the choice of the mineral deposits, the type of reactor, the waste storage, the financial and technological partners, the electric production and consumption system and the country’s micro and macroeconomic plans (Drogan, 2016).

In the narratives of the great milestones of atomic history, the economic aspects seem still marginal. There are good accounts of nuclear programs in capitalist democracies [the United States (Balogh, 1991), West Germany (Radkau and Lothar, 2013), France (Hecht, 1998), and Britain (Hall, 1986)] and in the communist world [the U.S.S.R., East Germany (Müller, 2001, Schmid, 2015)], and under long dictatorships such as Argentina, Brazil or Spain [Maella et al. (2015), Rubio-Varas et al (2017)]. Yet, it is possible to say that a history that includes the companies, the strategies and structures chosen to develop this form of energy and its multiple applications in medicine, agriculture and beyond, with the tools of the economic historians has scarcely begun.

This absence of economic and business history is surprising because from the beginning of the nuclear age there was a concern about the financing of atomic projects, national and international institutions considered the economic aspects as strategic, business consortia emerged, and international transfer of knowhow became crucial (OEEC, 1959; Maxwell et al, 1959; Federal Power Commission, 1971). Neither is there a business history that explains the nuclear ecosystem (Scurlock, 2007), the industrial infrastructures, the markets, the attitudes of the entrepreneurs and the institutional influence. By their part, the business histories of the electricity utilities and regulation tend to treat in only passing (if at all) the nuclear endeavours (Chick, 2007; Hausman et al, 2007; Hausman and Neufeld, 2011; Madureira, 2017), with only few exceptions (Pope, 2011). All in all, the economic and business history of nuclear applications remains on its infancy despite the sheer amount of research devoted to the history of nuclear programs across the globe. By supplying an international historical perspective on the development of nuclear uses from its origins in to the present with particular emphasis on the business strategies and structures adopted this session aims at filling these gaps in the literature.