Bathsheba Demuth's Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Straitis the 2020 winner of the George Perkins Marsh Prize for best book in environmental history. Floating Coast is a remarkable piece of historical scholarship that examines the history of human societies, animal worlds and non-human nature across 200 years of Beringia—the Arctic land and waters between Canada and Russia. Demuth’s book takes place at the interstices of imperial and national borders and borderlands, within the homelands of multiple indigenous peoples and the habitats of whales, seals, caribou, and other species. Her nuanced attention to these spaces and scales, which includes different structures of governments in this multinational setting as well as their engagement with indigenous sovereignties, is impressive. While examining the transformations wrought by state efforts to extract the Bering Strait’s resources and by climate change, she manages to detail the agency and resiliency of both peoples and animals in the region, including a pathbreaking exploration of the ability of whales themselves to create spaces of security amidst widespread hunting. Demuth coveys her arguments in a well-crafted monograph, filled with elegant writing and moments when readers stop to savor its ideas and language.
The American Society for Environmental History encourages scholarship on the interactions between humans and the natural world (or among humans and non-humans) through time. Membership of the Society is markedly interdisciplinary and international, and the work of ASEH members ranges across the ages, from crucial concerns of the present to the farthest reaches of human time.
As a non-profit scholarly organization, ASEH promotes research and teaching in environmental history, engages in public outreach, and supports its members’ professional needs. We offer a heartfelt welcome to all those with an interest in these activities, details of which can be found elsewhere on this website.
The Society holds a lively and well-attended annual conference, encourages local / regional activities in support of its mission, and publishes Environmental History, an excellent scholarly journal, jointly with the Forest History Society, under the auspices of Oxford University Press.
Please explore this website for more details about our mission, our journal, and our newsletter, conferences and workshops, travel grants, fellowships, teaching resources, and more – as well as information about how to become a member of the Society.