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Environmental History of the Middle East & North Africa
What does it mean to study history from an environmental perspective? When we want to explore the history of goats, forests, camels, oil, or rivers how do we grapple with questions of agency? How do we understand the evolving relationship between human and non-human nature? An explosion of recent scholarship about the history of the environment in the Middle East and North Africa has posed a number of innovative answers to these questions. In this course, we will explore a variety of the themes raised, thinking about how a focus on environmental factors enables alternative perspectives on colonialism, nationalism, capitalism, gender and sexuality, empire, race, and class. What are some of the benefits of these interpretations? Are there also drawbacks? We will also consider what it means to talk about the impacts of climate change in the region when thinking historically.
❖ Richard Bulliet, Cotton, Climate, and Camels in Early Islamic Iran: A Moment in World History (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011).
❖ Diana Davis, The Arid Lands: History, Power, Knowledge (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2016).**
❖ Alan Mikhail, Under Osman’s Tree: The Ottoman Empire, Egypt, and Environmental History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017).
❖ Sam White, The Climate of Rebellion in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).
❖ Nükhet Varlık, Plague and Empire in the Early Modern Mediterranean World: The Ottoman Experience, 1347-1600 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017).
❖ Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017).