Entries by Shings


History of War and the Environment syllabus – Jim Harris

This course offers an advanced study of the relationship between war and the environment. While this course will pay close attention to the ways in which warfare has had a profound impact on physical landscapes, altered ecologies and created militarized “environments,” we will also consider how the relationship between war the environment has shaped politics, economics and human ideologies.

Fields into Factories: Britain’s inter-war landscape militarisation

In its September 1943 war-time progress report, the Council for the Preservation of Rural England – CPRE – what one would nowadays call an environmental not-for-profit – took to reviewing changes in the countryside “aggravated by or directly due to the war.” It considered the most influential factors to be the dispersal of industry and […]

Environmental Disruption from Mass Wartime Refugee Movements

By: Richard Tucker Throughout history, refugee movements have been a tragic consequence of war. These social upheavals have usually been sudden and overwhelming, uprooting entire communities, in contrast to other mass migrations, including recent climate refugee movements. In the industrial era, as the scale and intensity of warfare have increased, the human costs of these […]

Recommended Panels: ASEH 2019

ASEH and our annual breakfast is almost upon us! We wanted to highlight a few panels and events out of the full list of amazing programming set for the conference this year that look particularly interesting to those interested in Environment and Military.   Thursday, April 11 7:15 Environment & Military breakfast 10:30 Environmental Histories […]

There Are the Pyrenees! – Fortifying the Nation in Francoist Spain

Santiago Gorostiza, “’There Are the Pyrenees!’ Fortifying the Nation in Francoist Spain,” Environmental History 23:4 (October 2018), 797-823. From the abstract: Literature on war and the environment has examined a wide range of militarized landscapes, but massive fortification systems such as the Maginot or Siegfried lines, which are symbols of a military trend in vogue during the interwar period, have largely […]


Enlace Zapatista

A resource on Zapatista history. http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/ Key documents include: Revolutionary Agrarian Law First Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle  

ASEH 2019 conference: A session on the 1920s and 1930s

Dear fellow scholars of militaries and the environment, Over the last two ASEH meetings we have had fruitful panels on disease and the aftermath of World War I, war, nationalism and natural resources (2017), and strategic planning and civil wars between the world wars (2018). Based on these excellent panels, talk has emerged about pulling […]

Call for Abstracts (WESIPS 2019)

The organizers would like to invite you to consider submitting an abstract in consideration for the 2019 Warfare, Environment, Social Inequality and Pro-Sociability (WESIPS) Biennial Conference to be held at the Center for Cross-Cultural Study in Seville, Spain (see attached conference flier). This symposium will take place on May 23-25, 2019. This interdisciplinary conference seeks […]

Population and Other Bombs in the Guatemalan Rainforest

In February 2018, archaeologists working with the National Geographic Society announced that they had uncovered evidence proving that the Ancient Maya Empire was far larger, more densely populated, and had done more to transform its environment than scientists had previously appreciated. Using a new technology called LIDAR, the team was able to peer through the dense forest cover that blankets the northern lowlands of Guatemala, digitally revealing cities, elevated highways, and massive earthworks used for water control and warfare.

Military Landscapes Symposium at Dumbarton Oaks

Washington, D. C. May 4-5. 2018 From Dumbarton Oaks: Among various human interventions in the landscape, war has left one of the most lasting and eloquent records, literally inscribed in the face of the earth. Military landscapes can assume different forms and functions: vertical, as the Great Wall of China, or horizontal, as the Federal […]

ESEH Biennial Conference 2019: Boundaries in/of Environmental History

21-25 August 2019 Tallinn, Estonia Hosting institution: Estonian Centre for Environmental History (KAJAK), University of Tallinn The Next ESEH Biennial Conference will be held in Tallinn! To build on the discussions at the 2017 biennial conference in Zagreb, the 2019 Tallinn conference will operate under the notion of “boundaries in/of environmental history”, and will expand the idea […]

No War 2017: War and the Environment

Presented by World Beyond War Just following the International Day of Peace, and in the tradition of No War 2016: Real Security Without Terrorism, and the best speech any U.S. president ever gave, this year’s conference will focus on activism, including activist planning workshops, addressing how the antiwar and environmental movements can work together. We […]

ASEH Conference Sessions 2017

ASEH Conference – 2017 – Sessions on War and Environment Conference info here Thursday, March 30 8:30 to 10:00: The Cold War, the American West, and the Environment A Comparative Analysis of the Environmental Effects of Cold War: Uranium Mining in Grants, New Mexico. Robynne Mellor, Georgetown University Incident at Galisteo: The 1955 Teapot Series […]

ASEH conference 2017

2017 conference – Chicago Winds of Change: Global Connections across Space, Time, and Nature Dates: March 29 – April 2, 2017 Location: Drake Hotel, downtown Chicago (Magnificent Mile) Host: University of Illinois-Chicago More info here. Panel Schedule here. We are looking for contributors to a panel for ASEH 2017 on war (or geopoltical conflict more broadly), […]

World War II and the Environment Workshop 2016

“The Nature of War: American Environments and World War II” Workshop at Ohio State University, February 25-27, 2016 “Smoke ‘Em if You’ve Got ‘Em: Environmental, Agricultural, and Industrial Implications of Cigarette Consumption during World War II,” Joel R. Bius, Air Command and Staff College, Alabama joel.bius@us.af.mil “Fueling the ‘American Century’: Establishing the U.S. Petroleum Imperative during […]

Society for Military History Conference 2016

World War I and the Environment: Global Resource Allocation, Militarization, and the Nature of Raw Materials Ottawa, April 14 – 17, 2016 *** UPDATE *** Friday, April 15, 10:30 – 12:00 Roundtable: THE “NEW” MILITARY HISTORY: INTERSECTIONS WITH THE HISTORY OF THE ENVIRONMENT, GENDER, AND RACE Chair: James Grossman, Executive Director, American Historical Association Beth […]

ASEH Conference 2016

At the annual conference of the American Society for Environmental History, in Seattle on March 30 – April 3, our annual War and Environment breakfast will be on Friday morning.  Everyone is welcome to participate, to meet colleagues and join a brief discussion of our network. The conference program includes three sessions on war and […]

ESEH Conference 2017

The next biennial ESEH meeting will be held June 28 – July 2, 2017 in Zagreb, Croatia. UPDATE: Submission deadline passed. Thank you for your submissions. Panel Schedule Here. The theme will be “Contact/Conflict Environments – Environments in areas of contact among states, economic systems, cultures and religions”. Because of unusual shape of Croatia’s territory and because […]

Defending Nation, Defending Nature? Militarized Landscapes and Military Environmentalism in Britain, France, and the United States – Peter Coates, Tim Cole, Marianna Dudley, and Christ Pearson

Published in  Environmental History 16 (July 2011), pp. 456-91 This is a well polished overview of an important aspect of environmental impacts of military establishments in peacetime.  It points readers to their longer, more varied study: Chris Pearson, Peter Coates and Tim Cole, eds.,Militarized Landscapes: From Gettysburg to Salisbury Plain (London: Continuum, 2010).  My students have […]

Mountain Warfare and Environmental History

Fragile mountainous landscapes around the world are environmental settings where warfare has been endemic through the centuries.  Mountain zones became major battle regions during World War I, as we see in Tait Keller’s work on the Italian / Austro-Hungarian battle zone of the southeastern Alps, and Marc Landry’s work in progress on the French Alps in […]

The State of the Art on the Environmental History of World War I

As we move deeper into the centennial years of World War I, environmental historians have begun to make important contributions to our understanding of the costs and legacies of the Great War.  Conference panels and workshops in 2014 (see our Conferences page for a listing) have featured dimensions of the war’s environmental dynamics that had hardly […]

Warfare and Ecological Destruction in Early Fourteenth-Century British Isles – Philip Slavin

Published in Environmental History 19: 3 (July 2014) Abstract: The environmental, economic, and demographic consequences of Anglo-Scottish warfare in the early fourteenth century were far reaching. This article looks at the extent of environmental damage brought about by the ongoing warfare, primarily between England and Scotland from 1296 to 1328. The conflict coincided with a series of ecological and […]

Range Wars: The Environmental Contest for White Sands Missile Range – Ryan H. Edgington

From the Introduction: “In March 2009 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service named the massive White Sands Missile Range in south-central New Mexico the recipient of the 2007 Military Conservation Partner Award. … The now more than sixty-year-old missile range does deserve recognition. … By 1980 White Sands had conducted more than sixty thousands missile tests. Wildlife conservationists have […]

Never Such Weather Known in These Seas: Climatic Fluctuations and the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the Seventeenth Century, 1652-1674 – Dagomar Degroot

Abstract: In the North Sea region, the so-called Little Ice Age reached a cold, stormy nadir between 1560 and 1720, with a three-decade interruption of warmer, more tranquil weather between 1629 and 1662. Newly considered ship logbooks, diaries and other documentary evidence suggest that a rise in the frequency of easterly winds accompanied the coldest phases of the Little […]

Natural Defense: U.S. Air Force Origins of the Department of Defense Natural Resources Conservation Program – Jean A. Mansavage

The Preface states, “This work relates the story of why the U.S. Air Force took the lead among the military services in developing a comprehensive conservation program and how efforts by the Air Force laid the groundwork for the Department of Defense natural resources program that followed. The book also situates USAF/DOD conservation efforts within the context of U.S. […]

Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters – Kate Brown

As the ASEH Newsletter reports, “Brown draws on declassified documents and oral histories of government officials as well as workers and their families in the US and the former Soviet Union, capturing the shared experiences of the Soviet and American experience with the production of a nuclear arsenal. Beyond the major accidents, Brown reveals how everyday operations exposed workers […]

Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism – Jacob Darwin Hamblin

“With this book Jacob Hamblin makes a major contribution to our understanding of the decisive role of military priorities and military funding in the shaping of a wide range of environmental sciences. As a contribution to the histiography of science as conditioned by its political, ideological, social, and financial contexts, this book shows how the ideologies and international institutions […]

Paths of Infection: The First World War and the Origins of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic – Mark Osborne Humphries

Published in War in History 21: 1 (2013) Abstract: The origin site for the 1918 influenza pandemic which killed more than 50 million people worldwide has been hotly debated. While the mid-western United States, France, and China have all been identified as potential candidates by medical researchers, the military context for the pandemic has been all but ignored. […]

A War for Oil in the Chaco, 1932-35 – Stephen Cote

Published in Environmental History 18: 4 (2013) Abstract: Beginning in the late 1920s, Bolivia’s growing need for petroleum to fuel its mining sector and urban centers led the country on a policy of expansion into the Chaco Boreal, a torrid expanse claimed by both Bolivia and Paraguay. The two countries fought a three-year war over the territory in the […]

Transforming the Forests of a Counterfeit Nation: Japan’s ‘Manchu Nation’ in Northeast China – Patrick J. Caffrey

Published in Environmental History 18: 2 (April 2013) Abstract: In the 1930s, the Japanese army used forest management in its effort to transform the puppet Manchu Nation (Manchukuo) it had created in Northeast China into the cornerstone of a pan-Asian bloc. The bloc was intended to preserve the Japanese Empire’s security in a world sundered by global depression […]

Trees Versus Lives: Reckoning Military Success and the Ecological Effects of Chemical Defoliation During the Vietnam War – Neil S. Oatsvall

Published in Environment and History 19: 4 (November 2013) Abstract: During the Vietnam War, the United States military declared war not just on Vietnamese peoples, but also on nature itself. Operation Ranch Hand served as the U.S. military’s answer to the Vietnamese Communist appropriation of the natural world into their war plans, as U.S. planes dumped nearly twenty million gallons […]

Mobilizing Nature: The Environmental History of War and Militarization in Modern France – Chris Pearson

From the Introduction: “The trenches [of World War I] were part of a far longer and geographically dispersed environmental history of militarized environments in modern French history. In this book I trace the creation, maintenance, and contestation of these militarized environments from the establishment of France’s first large-scale and permanent army camp on the Champagne plains in 1857, to […]

Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War – Megan Kate Nelson

Kathryn Morse’s review in Environment and History, August 2014: “Americans don’t like ruins; they rebuild, memorialize, and forget. Megan Kate Nelson’s cultural and environmental history of the ruins left by the Civil War argues persuasively that physical ruins – of cities, homes, forests and soldiers’ bodies – mattered deeply during and just after the Civil War, but that […]

World War II, the Cold War, and Natural Resources, four papers in Global Environment #10

“Introduction: War and Natural Resources in History,” Simo Laakkonen and Richard Tucker “Big Science and the Enchantment of Growth in Latin America,” Nicolás Cuvi “The Vulnerability of Nations: Food Security in the Aftermath of World War II,” Jacob Darwin Hamblin “World War II and the ‘Great Acceleration’ of North Atlantic Fisheries,” Paul Holm “The Environmental Impacts of Japan’s […]

Better Blog Utilization: State of the Art

February 2015 (Read the latest State of the Art) We have begun posting blogs on the state of the art in the environmental history of warfare and militarization. These first examples are meant to encourage responses on any of these topics – and initiatives on others — to enrich our cooperative understanding of where we stand now, […]

Workshop on War and Geography

Date: 1 May, 2015 CUNY Graduate Center, New York City The program includes: Roy MacLeod, “Geography, Geology and Strategy: Scientific Goals and Military Operations, 1914-1918”; Martin G. Clemis, “The Geography of the Second Indochina War: Irregular War, the Environment, and the Struggle for South Vietnam”; Swen Steinberg, “Mountains and Woods in Two Wars: Forestry and Mining Science in Germany […]

ESEH Conference 2015

The biennial conference of the European Society for Environmental History will be in Versailles on 30 June – 3 July. It will include panels on the environmental history of the Napoleonic Wars and World War I, as well as other sessions on war and environment that will be announced shortly. The call for papers and sessions is already […]

ASEH Conference 2015

The annual conference of the American Society for Environmental History will be in Washington, D.C. on 18-21 March. Early registration will end on February 28th, so be sure to sign up soon. We will hold our annual War and Environment breakfast on Thursday morning the 19th at 7:15, to discuss our network’s activities and pursue networking. Following the […]