Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization

Division of Social Sciences, The University of Chicago

January 24, 2023

Reading List: Global Souths/Native Norths

Global Souths / Native Norths, hosted on November 18th, brought together experts focusing on the Arctic and those focusing on developing nations to explore parallels between the environmental, ecological, and political histories of these regions. In case you missed the event, the annotations below provide further references to some of the information mentioned by the panelists.

10:33 – Bathsheba Demuth is an Associate Professor of History and Environment and Society at Brown University. She is an environmental historian focusing on the Russian and North American Arctic. She wrote Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait (2019, W. W. Norton), a comprehensive history of Beringia with an emphasis on human changes to the environment.

12:19 – “Cancer Alley” is a corridor of petrochemical plants in Louisiana along the Mississippi River with high emissions that put nearby African-American residents at higher risk of cancer.

15:12 – “Terra nullius” is an international law term that describes land that has been unclaimed by a state. The term has historically justified colonization and occupation and undermined claims of sovereignty.

24:30 – Matthew P. Johnson is a Fellow at the Harvard University Center for the Environment who researches the impacts of hydropower dams in Brazil and oil refineries in the Caribbean. He authored the 2019 article “Black Gold of Paradise: Negotiating Oil Pollution in the US Virgin Islands, 1966–2012,” published for the American Society for Environmental History.

31:20 – Owain Lawson is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto Department of History and co-editor of Arab Studies Journal. He has written the 2021 article “A National Vocation: Engineering Nature and State in Lebanon’s Merchant Republic” in the Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East journal, and is currently writing Power Failures: Development, Sovereignty, and Environmental Justice in Lebanon, which analyzes the development of the Litani River Basin as a method of obtaining postcolonial sovereignty.

41:08 – Jen Rose Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She was the co-author of “Against decline? The geographies and temporalities of the Arctic cryosphere” in The Geographical Journal, and is currently working on a manuscript called Icy Matters: Race, Indigeneity, and Coloniality in Ice-Geographies, which analyzes colonial relationships in the Arctic through the lens of ice.

42:35 – ANCSA (Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act) is a 1971 policy regulating Alaska Native land claims that distributed 44 million acres to native corporations.

52:25 – COP27 (27th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change) was held in November in Sharm El-Shaikh, Egypt.

Global Souths / Native Norths was presented by the Environmental Studies Workshop, with co-sponsorship from the Urban Theory Lab, the Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization (CEGU), and the Neubauer Collegium Project on Fossil Capitalism in the Global South.