NiCHE New Scholars: Recap and Looking Ahead

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I am so excited to introduce Nuala Caomhánach as the incoming NiCHE New Scholars Community Representative for 2023-2024. Nuala is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of History at New York University and the Invertebrate Zoology Department at the American Museum of Natural History. Her dissertation examines the relationship between scientific knowledge, climate change, and conservation law in Madagascar. She illuminates how changes in the botanical sciences of ecology and phylogenetics have affected conservation ideology, policy, and practice. She is a contributing editor at the Journal of the History of Ideas Blog and contributes to the Journal of the History of Ideas’s Broadly Speaking Series. She also co-produces the Not That Kind of Doctor podcast with Dr. Grace East. The podcast invites PhD students and early career scholars to discuss their research in an informal manner. 

To read more about her research on the botanical collections of Madagascar, check out her fantastic post for the NiCHE series on Digital Natural History.  

The New Scholars community serves as a network for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and recent graduates interested in environmental history and the environmental humanities. It offers a space for members to connect through digital gatherings to share ideas and resources. 

This past year, the New Scholars held two reading club meetings where we discussed two fantastic texts and had the privilege to speak with both authors about their work. In November, Dr. Daniel Heath Justice spoke with us about his book Raccoon and together we explored how thinking about living alongside raccoons can help us to reflect deeply about approaching our co-existence with more-than-human lives. In the Spring, we selected Dr. Max Liboiron’s Pollution is Colonialism. Led by New Scholars member, Nick Koenig, the reading club took a scaffolded approach to the reading club meetings where we met three times with new scholars situated around the world. The conversations started out with sharing our self-locations and positionalities, as well as foregrounding the values of the Land(s)—stolen, unceded, or otherwise—we come from, currently reside, or have passed through. The second meeting was focused on discussing Pollution is Colonialism, sharing ways we hope to incorporate anticolonial and feminist methods to our future scholarship, and co-creating questions for Dr. Liboiron. For the final meeting, the group held a focused, small-group discussion with Dr. Liboiron on a myriad of topics related to anticolonial sciences. The reading group was finally left with exploring other texts in relation to Pollution is Colonialism for the purposes of growing our anticolonial toolkits. 

Our members also edited two series for NiCHE over the course of the last year. Together with Nick, I co-edited a series on Digital Natural History that brought together work from fantastic scholars exploring different ways technology and natural history can come together. Amrita DasGupta recently wrapped up her series on arts-based research methods, which centred on how the work of activists, artists, and scholars can be used to broaden how we depict environmental issues.

I want to sincerely thank Andrew Watson and Jessica DeWitt for their support, encouragement, and guidance with the editorial process over the past year. I also want to thank my predecessor Blake Butler for his support during both my time as a member of the New Scholars and as the representative. Lastly, I want to thank the members of the New Scholars for their contributions, ideas, and wonderful conversations over the past year.  

I’m so excited to see what Nuala has in store for the next year and look forward to upcoming events and series that the New Scholars put forward. If you’re interested in learning more about the New Scholars and how to get involved, you can email Nuala at nfc231[@] You can also follow the New Scholars on social media to stay up to date.

Feature image: Rod Waddington, ”Sunset”, Allee des Baobabs, Madagascar, 2016. CC-BY-SA-2.0

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Heather Rogers

I am a recent graduate of the Digital Humanities program at McGill University. My research focused on digital environmental humanities (DEH), new materialism, critical plant studies, and botanical history.

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