Colonial Ecologies


Kathleen Morrison

TR 01:45 PM-03:15 PM

This seminar explores the historical ecology of European colonial expansion in a comparative framework, concentrating on the production of "periphery" and the transformation of incorporated societies and environments. We begin with a discussion of the theoretical frameworks, sources of evidence, and analytical strategies employed by researchers to address the conjunction of environmental and human history in colonial contexts, including underdevelopment and global systems of circulation; political ecology; and ecological imperialism. We then discuss the circulation of persons, crops, invasives, and microbes as fundamental conditions of emerging global systems. Drawing on these elements, we discuss landscapes as sites of misrecognition, rationalization, and cultural production. This discussion sets the stage for an examination of novel forms of economic and ecological production, including the emergence of the 'drug foods', the transformation of forest products, and the rise of the plantation. We then consider the political ecology of crisis in colonial settings, including agrarian collapse, famine, and 'ecological poverty.'

This course fulfills Social Science Approaches to Environmental Inquiry elective.

Spring 2022