Environmental History and Archaeology: A Summer Spent at the Excavation of a Late Antique Infant Cemetery in Umbria, Italy
For environmentally-minded historians, and particularly for those of us who study periods that suffer from a scarcity of written sources, archaeological data can be crucial. Excavations give insight into past material culture, providing information about past societies that is absent from the written record and offering tangible evidence of human interactions with the natural world. Yet, despite its many benefits, interpreting archaeological data isn’t easy, and shouldn’t be taken on lightly by those unfamiliar with the field. This summer, I had the opportunity to spend five weeks excavating at La Villa Romana Di Poggio Gramignano, a Roman villa-turned Late Antique infant cemetery in Umbria, Italy. Read more on the blog.
Georgetown Environmental History recently sat down with renowned Brazilian environmental historian José Augusto Pádua in Rio de Janeiro to have a conversation about fires and deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. We asked him about the relationship between fire and deforestation, the history of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, and who is responsible for the recent surge in deforestation. Check out the video on our blog for his answers.
Professor Bathsheba Demuth Lecture on Whale Culture and Adaptation in the Bering Strait, October 10, 2019, 5:00-7:00 pm
Georgetown Environmental History is hosting environmental historian Bathsheba Demuth of Brown University, who is presenting research from her critically acclaimed book Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait. Her talk is Thursday, October 10, at 5:00 pm in the McShain Lounge in McCarthy Hall. See our coming up page for details.
Professor Abigail Agresta Talk on Natural Disaster Response and Christian Identity in Late Medieval Valencia, September 30, 2019, 2:00-3:30 pm
Georgetown Environmental History is hosting environmental historian Abigail Agresta of George Washington University, who is presenting research from her current book project about natural disaster response and Christian identity in late medieval Valencia. Her talk is Monday, September 30, 2019, at 2:00 pm in ICC 662. See our coming up page for the abstract and other details.
Georgetown Environmental History is hosting dendro-climatologist Kevin Anchukaitis of the University of Arizona's Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, who is giving an interdisciplinary lecture on volcanic eruptions and climate history. His talk is Tuesday, September 17, 2019 at 12:30 pm in 239 Regents Hall. See our coming up page for the abstract and other details.
Environmental history (EH) is still in its infancy in academia, particularly on a global scale, when compared to other fields within the discipline of history. The practitioners of economic history, for example, are preparing for their 19th world gathering in Paris. The most recent World Congress of Environmental History (WCEH) was only the field's third, and it presented environmental historians from around the world with a great opportunity to meet fellow scholars in global EH. The conference also highlighted regional expansions and, more broadly, a global growth of an environmental way of doing history. Read more on the blog.
Several Georgetown University scholars will participate in the ICEHO’s 3rd World Congress of Environmental History, taking place next week (July 22-26, 2019) at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Florianópolis, Brazil. Details are on our Coming Up page.
Matthew P. Johnson
This post is part one of a profile series in which Matthew and Natascha write about notable people in twentieth-century environmental history.
What the world knew about the environmental impact of China’s Three Gorges Dam during its early planning stages was largely thanks to the efforts of Chinese journalist Dai Qing. Three Gorges Dam is a giant dam on the Yangtze (Yangzi) River that the Chinese government erected during the 1990s and 2000s. It is the world’s largest hydroelectric dam in terms of installed capacity—it can produce an impressive 22,500 megawatts—and is one of the world’s most controversial dams because it had a gigantic social and environmental footprint. Read more on the blog.
A year ago, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria made headlines by wreaking havoc in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan took more than 6,000 lives in the Philippines. Thanks to modern meteorology and the ease of information dissemination on the internet, people knew these storms were coming and how strong they were and yet we still managed to end up with varying degrees of humanitarian disasters.
One can only imagine how these storms must have taken people by surprise in the past. Well, not exactly. Read more on the blog.
ECO-BINGO: The Historian’s Process, Environmental Thinking, and Why BINGO Is a Perfect Analogy for Professor McNeill’s Environmental History Seminar
“B seven. G twenty-four. O eighteen.”
As the announcer neatly ticks off the options that could let you take home that BINGO prize, the apparently random assortment of numbers in front of you begin to take on shape. Patterns emerge and your excitement increases with every square that connects. But, as any seasoned BINGO player will tell you, listening for the next one is as important as marking down the ones previously read. If you fall behind because you over-celebrated getting the second to last block, you may miss the announcement of your winning square. Finding what the pattern looks like, seeing the gaps of what you need next, and paying attention are, in my view, the fundamentals of BINGO.
As it happens, these could also be considered the fundamentals of my experience this past semester in Professor McNeill’s Environmental History Seminar.
Read more on the blog.