#EnvHist Worth Reading: May 2016

This Thomas Lovell painting depicts the arduous journey that the Camel Corp endured in the 1850s. Source: www.shraboise.com & armyhistory.org

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Every month I carefully track the most popular and significant environmental history articles, videos, audio, and other items making their way through the online environmental history (#envhist) community. You can watch all of our #EnvHist Worth Reading videos right here. Here are my choices for items most worth reading from May 2016:

1. Harrison/Quinn-Harrison Concentrator – Cooley, MN

This post, from John Baeten’s research blog looking at industrial landscapes, focuses on the Harrison Concentrator in Minnesota. Baeten discusses how he has recently been pondering the relationship between value and waste. “In mining,” he writes, “what is value today, might be waste tomorrow — and vice-versa — judgments based on economics, technological development, and culture. In mining heritage we can see similar parallels, as what we value collectively can change with time, with politics, and with economics.” Using aerial photographs and other images, he explores the way in which waste was handled at the Harrison concentrator and muses on the potential heritage value of this waste.

2. Traveling Through the Mountains…on Camel Back?

This post sheds some light on a lesser-known topic of animal history and explores some of the ways in which we, as humans, associate animals with specific landscapes or regions. HannaLore Hein writes about the history of camels in the American West, connecting the topic to the history of transportation. Hein states: “I have always found the history of transportation in the West exciting, but as a historian, I find this subject increasingly relevant not only because it tells a story about changing technology and regional development, but because it also speaks to the power of individual ingenuity and innovation.” Hein discusses the various way in which camels were incorporated into the West. She also traces their downfall as pack and transport animals there, due to their sour demeanor towards horses, mules, and other transport animals.

3. Interactive map: Historical emissions around the world

This map on CarbonBrief.org provides a visually stunning and usable time-slider map that shows the movement of carbon emission concentrations through time. The map also provides other statistics, including global population. I’ll let readers explore it themselves rather than describe all of it, but I think it’s worth fifteen minutes of exploration.

4. The Land Beyond Hate

In this article, which is adapted from her recent book, Trace: Memory, History, Race and the American Landscape, Lauret Savoy further advances efforts to put Black and other minority experiences back into environmental history and other discussions of the nature and the environment. In this post, Savoy discusses early memories of coming into contact with racism and racialized spaces as a biracial child. She poignantly comments on the way in which the landscape both connects her to her ancestors and acts as a sanctuary. “Whether a river named Colorado or a canyon called Grand, the American land did not hate. The Western parks and monuments that I visited with my parents were far more than destinations for recreation or Kodak moments. To the child I was, they became refuges from a world that made little sense,” she concludes.

5. Daniels Public Lecture: Zoe Todd

As the video description states: “On March 14, 2016, Zoe Todd presented a Master of Visual Studies Proseminar Series lecture entitled ‘Fish pluralities, refraction and decolonization in amiskwaciwâskahikan’ at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.” I highly recommend listening to this entire talk. Todd connects reconciliation, Indigenous-State relations, and settler-colonial relations to the human-fish relationship. Moving beyond the anthropocentric, Todd argues, will enable Canada to “acknowledge and tend to the principles of reciprocity, kinship and relatedness that are centred in diverse and dynamic Indigenous legal orders across Canada.”

Remember to follow #envhist hashtag and NiCHE (@NiCHE_Canada) on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ to keep up with the latest environmental history content.

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is an environmental historian of Canada and the United States, editor, and digital communications strategist. She earned her PhD in History from the University of Saskatchewan in 2019. She is an executive member, editor-in-chief, and social media editor for the Network in Canadian History and Environment (NiCHE). She is also a working board member of the Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society and Girls Rock Saskatoon. A passionate social justice advocate, she focuses on developing digital techniques and communications that bridge the divide between academia and the general public in order to democratize knowledge access. You can find out more about her and her freelance services at jessicamdewitt.com.


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