#EnvHist Worth Reading: May 2021

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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 read all of our past #EnvHist Worth Reading lists right here. Here are my choices for items most worth reading from May 2021:

1. Gone to the Dogs

Jonathan Turnbull, a PhD student in the the Department of Geography and King’s College, is conducting multispecies ethnographic research in Chernobyl that examines the relationship between guards in the exclusion zone and stray dogs. This article spotlights the photographs taken by guards as part of Turnbull’s study. After the Chernobyl accident, most pets left behind were euthanized in order to avoid contamination, but some successfully hid. The 500 stray dogs in Chernobyl today are the descendants of these pets. Turnbull argues that the strong relationship between the dogs and the guards is an effective case study of a possible outcome that can develop after a large environmental disaster. Turnbull emphasizes the reciprocal nature of these multispecies relationships in Chernobyl; both parties provide care and companionship to one another.

2. Outside/In Book Club: Trace by Lauret Savoy

Outside/In has started a book club, #ReadingOutsideIn, and their first selection was Lauret Savoy’s Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape (2015). In this accompanying episode, Savoy comments on the book and its origins in a desire to better understand her family’s history and her own past. Savoy’s comments are intermixed with discussion from producers Justine Paradis and Sam Evans-Brown. Both folks who have read Trace and those yet to will gain a lot from this episode. And if you’re looking for more books that contextualize the connection between race and environment, check out our “Ten Books to Contextualize Environmental Racism” list from last summer.

3. John Locke on Human Equality with Dr Jishnu Guha-Majumdar

In this episode of Knowing Animals, featuring Jishnu Guha-Majumdar, animal history and studies meets political theory and intellectual history. The conversation revolves around Guha-Majumdar’s 2020 Political Theory article “Lyons and Tygers and Wolves, Oh My! Human Equality and the “Dominion Covenant” in Locke’s Two Treatises,” which closely examines John Locke’s Two Treatises through animal studies and race studies lenses. In this article, Guha-Majumdar argues that the “real ground of Lockean human equality is an ongoing practice of subjugating nonhuman animals.”

4. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson and the Record of Past Climate Change

Historical Climatology’s podcast Climate History has reached twenty episodes! In this episode, Dagomar Degroot and Emma Moesswilde sit down with Jim McClure, General Editor of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson at Princeton University. McClure discusses his initiative to create a digital repository of Jefferson’s weather and climate observations. This project is a great example of how environmental data can be observed and collected from historical collections that are not necessarily associated with environmental or climate history.

5. ASLE Spotlight Series 2: Water Works

EcoCast is currently featuring the ASLE Spotlight Series, which highlights scholars doing publicly engaged scholarship in the environmental humanities. The 2nd episode of this series focused on “Water Works,” was co-hosted by Bethany Wiggin and Melody Jue, and featured panelists Steve Mentz, Craig Santos Perez, Brain Russel Roberts, and Tori Bush. Craig Santos Perez powerfully opens the episode with an important poetic reminder that “water is life” in his reading of his poem “Chanting the Waters,” leading the way for a really thoughtful discussion about water by all of the panelists.


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

Feature Image: “Chernobyl dog” by engyles is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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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, 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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