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 January 2022:
In this blog post for The Anthropocene and More-Than-Human World Writing Workshop Series, Aiman Aslam Khattak writes that “The Global South has mostly been a site of extraction for the Global North, extraction of wealth, extraction of natural resources, extraction of knowledges, extraction of labour and extraction of cultivated commodities.” Khattak writes about how colonialism in the Global South has not really ended, but rather evolved into the Global North exploiting the Global South as a commodity frontier. This exploitation is driven by a neoliberal, capitalist culture that commodifies nature. Khattak ends the piece by discussing ways of moving forward.
In this piece for Euronews Green, Rosie Frost revisits the Biosphere 2 experiment, which now took place over twenty years ago. The Biosphere 2 project involved eight people who quarantined themselves in a 1.27 hectare vivarium in the desert of Arizona that was intended to be a replica of Earth’s ecosystem. The experiment is most well-known for being a massive failure because CO2 levels became so high that plants and animals began to die off, causing a rift between the participants. However, Frost points out that the high levels of CO2 – which were considered the centre of the project’s failure at the time – actually led the researchers to gather information that is now useful in understanding climate change’s ecological effects.
In this article for Environmental History Now, Isabelle Gapp opens by discussing the temporality of glaciers and how climate change is changing the traditional rhythm of this temporality. Gapp notes her own fascination with ice and the ways in which interdisciplinarity enriches our understanding of glaciers and their contemporary perplexity. In her own research, Gapp focuses on an ecocritical examination of the ways in which glaciers are represented in visual culture. “Methodologically, an ecocritical art history mobilises an array of perspectives, interlacing visual analysis, cultural interpretation, Indigenous stories, environmental history, and climate change narratives. To think visually about glaciers therefore requires a level of understanding that traverses disciplines and fields of expertise,” Gapp writes. Providing examples, Gapp uses the piece to provide an examples of the glacier visual archive and how glaciology helps us understand this archive.
In this piece for the Labour in Mining “Young Mining Historian Corner” series, Francesca Sanna writes about food and the consumption of food among 20th century miners in the Mediterranean. Sanna points out that though traditionally overlooked, the history of food in relation to mining labour promises to provide insight into the “standards of living, health and material culture of workers, their families and communities.” Sanna provides an overview of what miners ate, where they ate, how the food was distribute, the conflicts that arose in relation to food, and the sources that provide this information. “The various forms of miners’ eating habits invite us to reexamine the image of mining labour and industrial environment,” Sanna concludes.
In this piece for JStor Daily, Tiya Miles opens by reminiscing about the winter of January 1977 when an extreme cold spell froze the Ohio River solid in her hometown of Cincinnati. Though this freezing event was rare on the Ohio River, it was not unheard of, and Miles goes on to discuss how a frozen Ohio river played a part in the history of enslaved peoples escaping to the North. “The repeated freezing of the waterway after that crucial turning point enabled enslaved people to escape. Their stories, reported in newspapers and fictionalized, made up an important component of the public discourse in advance of the US Civil War,” Miles writes.
Feature Image: Glacier et village inuit au cap York, Groenland. juillet 25, 1875. Crédit: Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, no d’acc 1936-259-3.
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