#EnvHist Worth Reading: January 2023

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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 January 2023:

1. Navigating Transformations and Transdisciplinarity in Northern Finland

In this piece for the ICEHO pages in Global Environment (later published on the White Horse Press blog), Roger Norum reflects on his own journey coming to terms with transdisciplinary work while conducting research in northern Finland, which revolves around understanding and preserving reindeer herding. In order to gain a full and accurate portrait of reindeer herding in the region, Norum argues, one needs access to and input from the perspectives and knowledge-bases of scientists, humanists, and local/Indigenous persons. Further, Norum contends that this kind of transdisciplinarity is particularly important for translating research into real world change. “To engage with and resolve the challenges of environmental and societal sustainability in the Anthropocene requires more than transformative science. Radical changes in human attitudes and behaviours are necessary for any successful transition to sustainability,” he writes.

2. The Problem With Silent Spring Environmentalism

It is rare when I come across a book review that makes as big of a splash on the internet as Scott W. Stern’s review of Douglas Brinkley’s new book Silent Spring Revolution: John F. Kennedy, Rachel Carson, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and the Great Environmental Awakening for The New Republic. Brinkley is one of the most successful, popular history writers alive today, and Stern’s critical assessment of his latest book got people on Twitter, and elsewhere, talking. Stern writes that Silent Spring Revolution is “is deeply researched, sensibly structured, and possessed of a fundamentally impoverished view of environmental history.” Brinkley’s view of environmentalism, according to Stern, is a regression to the Great Man school of history, and as such, he misrepresents the environmental movements of the 1960s and 1970s and ignores the environmentalists doing the work on the ground.

3. History Extra Podcast – Parachuting Monkeys & Volcanic Eruptions: An Extraordinary Victorian Zoo

I listened to an abundance of history podcasts this past month; I’ve always been an avid podcast listener, but I’m finding that with a young baby, I’m able to spend a limited amount of time in front of my screen reading articles, and more time listening as I do other work. Thus, the rest of the list is made up of podcast episodes! First up is BBC’s History Extra Podcast with an episode on the Victorian British attraction, the Surrey Zoo. Interviewee, Dr. Joanne Cormac, discusses the rise of zoos in relation to broader themes of science, leisure, and empire in British history.

4. Let’s Find Out – Episode 60 – A Beautiful Ex-Garbage Dump

Let’s Find Out is a podcast hosted by Chris Chang-Yen Phillips, an MA grad student at the University of Alberta, and their current season is focused on the history of Edmonton’s parks (very exciting for this park historian!). All of the episodes in the season are worth checking out, but I particularly enjoyed Episode 60, which revolves around the question: “When did we stop dumping garbage into river valley spaces and start turning them into parks?”

5. Gaze At the National Parks – Trail Mix: The Antiquities Act

Gaze at the National Parks is a podcast that follows the hiking adventures of hosts, Dustin Ballard and Michael Ryan. Although they often recount their current-day adventures, many episodes also touch upon historical topics. In this episode, “Trail Mix: The Antiquities Act,” they “unpack the history and development of the Antiquities Act and its role in establishing National Monuments and National Parks” in the United States.

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: “Skaters in Hawrelak Park (Edmonton)” by Edmonton Economic Development Corporation is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
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is an environmental historian of Canada and the United States, editor, project manager, 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). Additionally, she is the Managing Editor for the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. She is also a working board member of the Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society and Girls Rock Saskatoon and a Coordinating Team member of Showing Up for Racial Justice Saskatoon-Treaty Six. 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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