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 November 2022:
In this photo essay, Isaac Muk highlights a set of images taken by Adrian Fisk in 1995 of the ‘No M65’ campaign in the Stanworth Valley of northern England. At the time, Fisk was a photography student and had heard a rumour about a group of people living in some trees as a form of protest. “The group were protesting the proposed construction of an extension of the motorway that would link Preston and Burnley, and in doing so, cut straight through Stanworth Woods – an old growth forest with trees centuries old. Using their mere physical presence, the activists were risking limb and life to protect the wildlife,” Muk writes. This protest launched Fisk’s focus on photographing the environmental movement.
Beginning with the Flood of 1938, Michael Kimmelman traces the history of the Los Angeles River and its connection to the development of the city. Efforts to tame and channel the river culminated in the 1960s with the largest public works project undertaken west of the Mississippi by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The redesign of the river into a concrete channel made possible the development of the LA that we know today, but Kimmelman writes that “Several decades after its completion, it is the flood channel itself — not the floods it was built to contain — that many Angelenos have come to see as the disaster.” Kimmelman, aided by photography by Adali Schell and historic imagery, goes into a deep dive on the topic of rewilding the river and the socio-economic challenges that this remodeling may cause to the city’s residents.
In this piece for Arcadia, Nicolas de Félice looks closely at the writings of Philippe-Sirice Bridel, a Swiss historic figure. Specifically, de Félice looks at Bridel’s travel diary from July 1775 and the idealist conceptions of the natural world that are contained within. He argues that these writings effectively portray the connection between Swiss nationalism and the nation’s mountainous landscape. “Bridel’s work is based on a naturalizing conception that links the character of each people to the specificities of its environment: In Switzerland, the spirit of freedom and brotherhood would result from the symbiosis between mountains and individuals,” de Félice writes.
In this thought-provoking interview, Sarah Bezan discusses the concept of hydrofeminism with Astrida Neimanis, Canada Research Chair of Feminist Environmental Humanities at the University of British Columbia and how this concept or theoretical framework facilitates the examination of coastlines and the transitional zones that they occupy. Bezan and Neimanis also delve into a discussion of the Anthropocene and Blue Humanities, as well as how these topics intersect with questions of race and colonialism. Neimanis points out that white, western conceptions of and relations to the environment still dominate the broader category of ‘Anthropocene.’ “The white Anthropocene still dominates the present and future of the coastline when we talk about water (or wetlands, or particular plant or animal species) only in terms of ecosystem services. When we talk about loss solely as financial or economic. When we value property over relationships,” Neimanis comments.
Environmental History Now launched a new podcast this fall! The podcast is designed to be a companion to the written pieces on the site and many of the episodes are audio versions of written blog posts delivered by the authors themselves. These audio versions offer another way to interact with the site and improves accessibility. All of the episodes are great, but one that I really enjoyed was Luísa Reis-Castro’s reading of her piece, “Politics of Nature: Mosquitoes, Pathogens, and that which divides Brazil.”
Feature Image: “Selfie & Reflection – LA River” by Joey Z1 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
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- Online Event – Teaching American Environmental History: Digital Sources in the Classroom - November 8, 2023
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- Call for Submissions – From Coulees to Muskeg: A Saskatchewan Environmental History Series - October 26, 2023
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