Alex Souchen

Alex Souchen
University of Guelph | UOGuelph · Department of History

PhD

About

13
Publications
424
Reads
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9
Citations
Introduction
I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Guelph, and the author of the book War Junk: Munitions Disposal and Postwar Reconstruction in Canada (UBC Press, 2020). I specialize in military history, environmental history, and the history of science and technology. I mostly research and write about the Second World War, munitions production and disposal, underwater munitions, and the history of waste and pollution.
Additional affiliations
May 2021 - June 2022
Northern Lakes College
Position
  • Instructor
Description
  • I teach classes online in the humanities and social sciences.
September 2020 - June 2022
Royal Military College of Canada
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Description
  • Principal investigator on the project: "Military Pollution and Environmental Politics in Canada."
May 2019 - August 2020
Trent University
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Description
  • Principal investigator on the project: "Weapons of Mass Pollution: Health and Environmental Hazards in Canada's Munitions Industry during the Second World War."
Education
September 2010 - April 2016
September 2008 - August 2010
University of Ottawa
Field of study
  • History
September 2004 - August 2008
University of Ottawa
Field of study
  • History

Publications

Publications (13)
Book
Full-text available
War Junk reveals the complex political, economic, social, and environmental legacies of munitions disposal in Canada. During the Second World War, Canadian factories produced mountains of munitions and supplies, including some 800 ships, 16,000 aircraft, 800,000 vehicles, and over 4.6 billion rounds of ammunition and artillery shells. Although they...
Article
Full-text available
https://scholars.wlu.ca/cmh/vol26/iss2/3/ This article examines Canada’s ammunition dumping program in the mid-1940s and pays special attention to the practical and technical dilemmas that influenced policy making and implementation. A pressing logistical crisis followed the end of the Second World War as crowded armaments depots ran out of storag...
Article
Full-text available
When hostilities ended in 1945, the large arsenals of chemical weapons manufactured during the Second World War posed a major disposal problem. To eliminate leftover stockpiles, the Allies dumped them at sea. This article examines the disposal of Canada’s surplus mustard gas, which was packed into Landing Ship Tank (LST) 3521 and scuttled in the At...
Article
This article examines how the Canadian state disposed of surplus munitions and supplies after World War II. It makes three related arguments. First, mass production during the war created a post-war disposal crisis that compelled the government to regulate the divestment of assets for political and economic purposes. Second, through a government-ru...
Article
When the First World War ended in November 1918, the British military was overwhelmed by logistical problems involving the disposal of leftover munitions piling up across the Western Front. To expedite disarmament, the British started dumping all manner of bombs, bullets, and chemical weapons into the seas surrounding Europe. On the surface, dumpin...
Article
Archival research is an important starting point for scientific studies on underwater munitions, but marine scientists have voiced concerns and criticism over the completeness, validity, and reliability of historical records. However, labelling primary sources as ‘incomplete’ demonstrates that scientists have largely misunderstood how and why archi...
Article
Marine scientists and other experts depend on information found in archival documents and other historical records to investigate underwater munitions. These sources help them locate dumpsites, establish timelines, identify ordnance, and better understand the hazards, chemicals, and degradation products found in their studies. However, historical s...
Article
https://scholars.wlu.ca/cmh/vol30/iss1/1/ Allied victory during the Battle of Normandy is often attributed to operational and strategic factors, but the high-level focus on command and combat effectiveness obscures the infantry’s lived experiences. Although combat was their primary purpose, soldiers killed time as often as they killed Germans. Thi...
Article
In November and December 2016, local residents around St. Mary’s Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada, noticed something alarming: thousands of dead fish were washing up along the coast. Scientists from the Canadian government’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans investigated, but the cause remains a mystery. This research note excogitates a potential cause: d...
Article
This article explores the collective impact of information sharing, social interaction, and cultural expression on the morale of Canadian soldiers in the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division during the Battle of Normandy in France during World War II. It finds that battalion newspapers played an important role in supporting unit morale in three ways. Fir...

Questions

Question (1)
Question
Does anyone have any suggestions on the best books or articles on the military-industrial complex during the Cold War?
I know there are a ton of publications on the USA (so send them my way!), but also I'm wondering if anyone has any good recommendations for countries other than the USA?

Projects

Projects (4)
Project
This edited collection examines the history of Canada's Military-Industrial Complex. It is currently being prepared for peer review. My contribution explores the environmental impact of Canadian explosives factories during the Second World War.
Project
The project's goals are to explore the operational, scientific, logistical, and policy contexts that enabled munitions dumping after the First and Second World Wars (with a primary focus on North America and Europe). By extension, I am also interested in the environmental history of disarmament and waste disposal. To understand why and how events transpired, I conduct archival research and analyze historical documents, photographs, newspapers, and other primary sources using both qualitative and quantitative approaches. I also rely on the latest scientific studies to help understand the legacy impacts of underwater munitions on marine environment and ecosystems.
Project
This project has three objectives: 1) it seeks to uncover and interpret archival sources on dumped munitions in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom; 2) it seeks to digitize archival records for greater access and information exchange; 3) it seeks to write publications on historical and archival research methods to aide in scientific studies.