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Technology and the Environment in History

Sara B. Pritchard and Carl A. Zimring

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New perspectives on how envirotech can help us engage with the surrounding world in ways that are more sustainable for humanity—and the planet.

Today's scientists, policymakers, and citizens are all confronted by numerous dilemmas at the nexus of technology and the environment. Every day seems to bring new worries about the dangers posed by carcinogens, "superbugs," energy crises, invasive species, genetically modified organisms, groundwater contamination, failing infrastructure, and other troubling issues.

In Technology and the Environment in History, Sara B. Pritchard and Carl A. Zimring…

New perspectives on how envirotech can help us engage with the surrounding world in ways that are more sustainable for humanity—and the planet.

Today's scientists, policymakers, and citizens are all confronted by numerous dilemmas at the nexus of technology and the environment. Every day seems to bring new worries about the dangers posed by carcinogens, "superbugs," energy crises, invasive species, genetically modified organisms, groundwater contamination, failing infrastructure, and other troubling issues.

In Technology and the Environment in History, Sara B. Pritchard and Carl A. Zimring adopt an analytical approach to explore current research at the intersection of environmental history and the history of technology—an emerging field known as envirotech. Technology and the Environment in History They discuss the important topics, historical processes, and scholarly concerns that have emerged from recent work in thinking about envirotech. Each chapter focuses on a different urgent topic:

• Food and Food Systems: How humans have manipulated organisms and ecosystems to produce nutrients for societies throughout history.
• Industrialization: How environmental processes have constrained industrialization and required shifts in the relationships between human and nonhuman nature.
• Discards: What we can learn from the multifaceted forms, complex histories, and unexpected possibilities of waste.
• Disasters: How disaster, which the authors argue is common in the industrialized world, exposes the fallacy of tidy divisions among nature, technology, and society.
• Body: How bodies reveal the porous boundaries among technology, the environment, and the human.
• Sensescapes: How environmental and technological change have reshaped humans' (and potentially nonhumans') sensory experiences over time.

Using five concepts to understand the historical relationships between technology and the environment—porosity, systems, hybridity, biopolitics, and environmental justice—Pritchard and Zimring propose a chronology of key processes, moments, and periodization in the history of technology and the environment. Ultimately, they assert, envirotechnical perspectives help us engage with the surrounding world in ways that are, we hope, more sustainable and just for both humanity and the planet. Aimed at students and scholars new to environmental history, the history of technology, and their nexus, this impressive synthesis looks outward and forward—identifying promising areas in more formative stages of intellectual development and current synergies with related areas that have emerged in the past few years, including environmental anthropology, discard studies, and posthumanism.

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Technology and the Environment in History

Sara B. Pritchard and Carl A. Zimring

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Reviews

Reviews

An excellent book. Examining works at the intersection of environmental history and the history of technology, Pritchard and Zimring bring readers unfamiliar with the wide range of scholarly work in this area up to speed in a concise manner.

Pritchard and Zimring demonstrate how technological and environmental history enrich each other, deploying the concepts of permeability, hybridity, and systems to investigate agriculture, industrialization, waste, disasters, and sensescapes. In their brilliant synthesis, human beings are both natural and technological creatures navigating the porous and often perilous boundaries of unstable landscapes.

Global in their vision, Pritchard and Zimring abandon geographical and chronological conventions to reveal systems that reshaped environments while placing burdens on marginalized communities. This remarkable book is essential for everyone who wishes to better understand the complex, porous relationship between environment, technology, and society.

An excellent and timely addition to the growing literature on envirotech. The book's overview of relevant scholarship at the intersection of the history of technology and environmental history will be useful to scholars and students alike, while its combination of vital and understudied topics makes for provocative reading and study. Here's to Sara Pritchard and Carl Zimring for this fine work.

Sara Pritchard and Carl Zimring have brought together two field—environmental history and the history of technolog—to chart the historiography of envirotech history. They show how both nature and technology have shaped the world we live in and the humans we have become. An excellent and extremely useful synthesis.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
5.5
x
8.5
Pages
264
ISBN
9781421438993
Illustration Description
23 halftones
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction. Technology and the Environment in History
1. Food and Food Systems
2. Industrialization
3. Discards
4. Disasters
5. Body
6. Sensescapes
Conclusion. An Envirotechnical World
Appen

Acknowledgments
Introduction. Technology and the Environment in History
1. Food and Food Systems
2. Industrialization
3. Discards
4. Disasters
5. Body
6. Sensescapes
Conclusion. An Envirotechnical World
Appendix. Teaching Resources
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bios
Featured Contributor

Sara B. Pritchard

Sara B. Pritchard is an associate professor of science and technology studies at Cornell University. She is the author of Confluence: The Nature of Technology and the Remaking of the Rhône and the coeditor of New Natures: Joining Environmental History with Science and Technology Studies.
Featured Contributor

Carl A. Zimring, Ph.D.

Carl A. Zimring is a professor of social science and cultural studies at Pratt Institute. He is the author of Clean and White: A History of Environmental Racism in the United States and Aluminum Upcycled: Sustainable Design in Historical Perspective.