History 89 Environmental History of Africa

History 89 Environmental History of Africa
Fall 2007

Books for purchase

Alfred Crosby, Ecological Imperialism
James McCann, Green Land, Brown Land
Robert Sapolsky, A Primate’s Memoir
William Beinart and Joann MacGregor, eds. Social History and African Environments
Tamara Giles-Vernick, Cutting the Vines of the Past

This course is a focused, discussion-oriented class on the relationship between human practices, social institutions and environment in the history of African societies, with particular emphasis on the 20th Century. We will ask whether environmental issues in the present are historically determined, and if so, which kinds of history are most relevant to questions of policy-making and management. (Or indeed, whether an examination of history calls into question most environmental management and planning.)

Students will complete two short (2 page) discussion papers due during the semester, a collective research project late in the semester and a longer research paper due after the end of classes. Regular attendance, active engagement with the material and participation in discussion are all important requirements for students taking this class. No prior knowledge of either African history or environmental history are necessary, but potential students should keep in mind that the reading load is fairly demanding.

Readings marked by an asterix will be available on Blackboard.

Monday September 3rd

Wednesday September 5th
Overview of the subject
Reading: James McCann, Green Land, Brown Land

Frameworks for Environmental History
Monday September 10th
*Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel, Chapters 5, 9, 19
*Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Civilizations, selection

Wednesday September 12th
*John Iliffe, Africans: A History, Chapters 1 & 5
*John Reader, Africa: The Biography of a Continent, Chapter 24, 25, 28

Monday September 17th
Alfred Crosby, Ecological Imperialism

Wednesday September 19th
Alfred Crosby, Ecological Imperialism
Karen Middleton, “The Ironies of Plant Transfer”, in Beinart and Macgregor, Social History and African Environments

Monday September 24th
James Fairhead and Melissa Leach, Misreading the African Landscape, Chapter 1, 2 and 9 [access online through Tripod]

Wednesday September 26th
Arun Agrawal, Environmentality, Chapter 1
Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts, Chapter 1

Friday September 28th
First short paper due

A Sampling of African Environmental History
Monday October 1st
David Lee Schoenbrun, A Green Place, A Good Place, selection

Wednesday October 3rd
Eugenia Herbert, Red Gold of Africa: Copper in Precolonial History and Culture, selection

Monday October 8th
Tamara Giles-Vernick, Cutting the Vines of the Past: Environmental Histories of the African Rain Forest

Wednesday October 10th
Edwin Wilmsen, Land Filled With Flies, selection

October Break

Monday October 22nd
Henrietta Moore and Megan Vaughn, Cutting Down Trees, selection
Helen Tilley, “African Environments and Environmental Sciences”, in Beinart and Macgregor, eds., Social History and African Environments

Wednesday October 24th
Luise White, “Tsetse Visions: Narratives of Blood and Bugs in Colonial Northern Rhodesia”
Marynez Lyons, The Colonial Disease: A Social History of Sleeping Sickness in Northern Zaire, selection

Monday October 29th
Donald Moore, Suffering for Territory: Race, Place and Power in Zimbabwe, selection

Environment, History and Policy-Making in Africa

Wednesday October 31st
Jonathan Adams, The Myth of Wild Africa: Conservation Without Illusion, selection
Roderick Neumann, Imposing Wilderness, selection

Monday November 5th
Clark Gibson, Politics and Poachers, selection
David Anderson and Richard Grove, Conservation in Africa, selection

Tuesday November 6th
Showing of “Darwin’s Nightmare”

Wednesday November 7th
David Bunn, “An Unnatural State” and Jane Carruthers, “Past and Future Landscape Ideology”, in Beinart, ed., Social History and African Environments

Second short paper due

Monday November 12th
Robert Sapolsky, A Primate’s Memoir

Agriculture and Agronomy
Wednesday November 14th
Richard Schroeder, Shady Practices: Agroforestry and Gender Practices in the Gambia, selection
William Beinart, The Rise of Conservation in South Africa, selection

Monday November 19th
Sara Berry, No Condition is Permanent, cocoa
James McCann, Maize and Grace, selection

Wednesday November 21st
Topic for research paper due
Discussion of research strategies

Environmental Degradation, Population Growth and Poverty
Monday November 26th
Jack Hollander, The Real Environmental Crisis: Why Poverty, Not Affluence, Is the Environment’s Number One Enemy, selection
Colin Kahl, “Population Growth, Environmental Degradation and Poverty: The Case of Kenya, 1991-93”, International Security 23:2 Fall 1998.
The Ehrlich-Simon wager

Wednesday November 28th
Michael Mortimore, Roots in the African Dust, selection
Grace Carswell, “Soil Conservation Policies in Colonial Kigezi, Uganda”, in Beinart, ed
P.E. Peters, “Struggles Over Water, Struggles Over Meaning”, Africa

Monday December 1st
William Kline, Global Warming and Agriculture: Impact Estimates By Country, selection
Bjorn Lomborg, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming, selection
Tim Flannery, The Weather Makers, selection

Disease and Environmental Management
Wednesday December 3rd
Malaria control and DDT debate: collective research project #1.
Zoonotic diseases and political ecology: collective research project #2.
River blindness, polio, smallpox: collective research project #3.
HIV-AIDS and human ecology: collective research project #4.
The cattle-killing and indigenous environmental management: collective research project #5.

Monday December 8th
John Ghazvinian, Untapped: The Scramble for Africa’s Oil
Nicolas Shaxson, Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil

Urbanization and Sanitation
Wednesday December 10th
Maynard Swanson, “The Sanitary Syndrome”
Garth Myers, Disposable Cities: Garbage, Governance and Sustainable Development in Urban Africa