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PhD candidate, Environmental History, McMaster University

Mica Jorgenson is a doctoral candidate in environmental history at McMaster University. She currently works on gold mining. Gold has always held a special place in human society - as currency, a medium for art, and most recently as an essential ingredient in a technological revolution. Its extraction effects environments all around the world, and she traces its material impacts on landscapes and communities in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States.

Her most recent work uses the Porcupine Gold Rush of Northern Ontario to look at how international science and politics shaped the local mining industry in the 20th century. In confronting unique Canadian shield geology and ecology, miners frequently looked overseas for solutions to local problems, and adapted them for the Canadian environment.

For example, mining companies imported milling technology from Mexico, metallurgy from the United States, labour from Eastern Europe, and doctors specializing in Silicosis from South Africa. In turn, Canadian innovations in low-grade mining went on to shape extraction of similar deposits around the world. Canada's historic place within this transnational network helps explain its (current) prominent role in the modern mining industry.

Jorgenson is a digital historian, so she uses computational analysis to supplement traditional archival research. For her current research she uses Historical Geographical Information Software to trace physical landscape change using historic maps. She also uses "flow maps" to show trends in the movement of mining people, objects, and ideas across borders.

She also studies indigenous history, remediation, and land law. She has several publications on the role of indigenous people in shaping extraction both in Canada and around the world.


  • –present
    PhD candidate, Environmental History, McMaster University