“reading – lectura” by Antonio Mantero

#EnvHist Worth Reading: March 2014

“reading – lectura” by Antonio Mantero
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“reading – lectura” by Antonio Mantero

As many NiCHE readers know, a lot of great articles, announcements, resources, and much more get posted to Twitter, using the #envhist hashtag. For four years now, Twitter users have been sharing environmental history content and we wanted a way to bring more attention to it here on the NiCHE website. This is the first article of what will hopefully be a monthly column of selected links from the #envhist feed. This is what was worth reading in March:

1. Events in the Collective Environmental Memory of Humanity [Video]

A couple of months ago, Jan Oosthoek’s Environmental History Resources website launched a YouTube channel. This is one of the most recent uploads and it highlights twenty-two key events in global environmental history that professional environmental historians regard as turning points in the relationship between humans and the environment. The quality is great and the video is certainly provocative. I am sure there are plenty of other turning points one could add to this list (so please post comments), but this seems like a pretty good start.

2. H-Environment Round Table Review: The Wired Northwest [PDF]

Jacob Hamblin has done terrific work for the past couple of years editing the round table reviews for H-Environment. The series is an innovative departure from the standard book review format. It convenes a panel of four scholars in a related sub-field to review a new book, followed by a response from the author. This edition of the round table review features Paul Hirt’s The Wired Northwest: The History of Electric Power, 1870s-1970s, a sprawling regional history of electrification. The reviewers include, Donald C. Jackson, H.V. Nelles, Adam Sowards, and Eve Vogel.

3. RCC Perspectives 2014, No. 1 – The Edges of Environmental History: Honouring Jane Carruthers

Based on the proceedings of a workshop, this issue of RCC Perspectives honours the career of Jane Carruthers, a pioneer of South African and world environmental histories. As editors Christof Mauch and Libby Robin state in their introduction, “Carruthers has been a great influence on the discipline of environmental history in South Africa and beyond.” This issue features essays by Harriet Ritvo, Thomas Dunlap, Tom Griffiths, Emily Wakild, and Lisa Sedrez among others.

4. Trading Consequences Official Launch

One of a handful of winners of the Digging into Data Challenge, the “Trading Consequences” project is a collaboration of environmental historians in Canada and  computer scientists in the UK. The project uses text-mining software to analyze trade and commodity flow patterns in the British Empire in the nineteenth century. A couple of the project leaders, Jim Clifford and Colin Coates, recently announced the official launch of the project, allowing users to explore the search and visualization tools that they have built. Readers should definitely try out the commodity search tool.

5. Stephen Pyne “Green Fire Meets Red Fire; Environmental History Meets the No-Analogue Anthropocene”

Writing on the Pinchot Institute for Conservation blog, fire historian Stephen Pyne explores the significance of historical perspective to understanding contemporary environmental circumstances in the Anthropocene. Pyne finds himself in sharp disagreement with “the most ardent Anthropocenarians,” who might suggest that “the present has so ruptured from previous times that the past can offer no meaningful guidance.” Instead, he argues, “there is good cause to view the uneasy detente between nature preservation and the Anthropocene historically.” Of course, Pyne uses fire as a lens to make this case. He astutely notes that fire is one of the defining characteristics of the Anthropocene. This is a fascinating read and certainly well worth it this month.

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Sean Kheraj is an assistant professor in the Department of History at York University. He researches and teaches in the areas of environmental and Canadian history. He is the host and producer of Nature's Past, NiCHE's audio podcast series and he blogs at http://seankheraj.com.

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