#EnvHist Worth Reading: May 2024

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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 2024:

1. Agriculture in the North: A New Strategy of Indigenous Land Dispossession?

In this important new report coming out of the Yellowhead Institute, Sarah Rotz and Daniel Rück examine how Canada’s legacy of settler colonialism and history of attempts to spread agriculture to Canada’s north are related to renewed efforts to colonize the north. “In today’s renewed attempt at agricultural expansion in the North,” they write, “there are new institutions involved; financial markets and investment are now far more entrenched than they were a hundred years ago, and are capitalizing on the opportunity.” Particularly worrying is the industrialization of agriculture, which they show is in direct conflict with traditional land use and sustainability.

2. How Florida is Getting Its Pink Back

Prior to last fall, the last recorded sighting of a flamingo in Florida’s Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge had been in 1992. In this article for The Washington Post, Lori Rozsca traces the comeback of Florida’s most-iconic bird from near-extinction. Almost wiped out by the turn-of-the-twentieth century plume trade, the bird’s populations are now beginning to recover thanks to decades of conservation efforts. Rozsca also details the state’s cultural connection to the bird. “Even as flamingo sightings in the Florida wild dwindled to zero by the mid-20th century, the association between the Sunshine State and the rose-hued bird grew. Hotels and motels were named after flamingos. They were featured on postcards, souvenir snow globes and keychains,” Rozsca writes.

3. Remnants of a Legendary Typeface Have Been Rescued From the River Thames

This article by Holly Black for artnet outlines an interesting story that highlights the interconnectedness of human “stuff” and environment. A little over a hundred years ago, a printer, T.J. Cobden-Sanderson dumped every piece of a typeface into the Thames River over a dispute with his business partner, Emery Walker, with whom he had founded the Doves Press. The “Dove Type” that they used was popular and there was only one set of them, so dumping them in the river killed the font. Until Robert Green used Cobden-Sanderson’s diary to find the location of the typeface’s disposal. All pieces of the typeface have now been rescued from the Thames’ muck.

4. B C Mining the Way it Is: Reclamation and the Environment | 1991

This is a gem of a panel recording uploaded by the Nelson Museum in May. This 1991 panel on BC mining covers a slew of important topics from women in the industry, to mining in provincial parks, to reclamation efforts. I particularly appreciate the initial response by panelist Kim Bittman where she states, with a blank stare, that 14% “is a good number” for the employment ratio of women in the industry.

5. RHS Lecture, ‘Possible Maps: Ways of Knowing and Unknowing at the Edge of Empire (Newfoundland)’

In this Royal Historical Society Lecture, Julia Laite examines the role of map-making and colonial imagination in the initial settlement of Newfoundland, as well as unofficial and Indigenous ways of mapping. Laite discusses the role of the cod fishery and how the maps from the time period give us a window into ways of knowing Newfoundland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Feature Image: “Flamingo in Key West, Florida” by diana_robinson is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 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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