In this roundtable, noted historians of agriculture, science, and society—R. Douglas Hurt, Joel Hagen, and Amy Hay—use their recent books in the NEXUS book series as a launching point to explore the ways in which environmental history and closely allied fields intersect and inform one another.
The discussion will be chaired by Ellen Griffith Spears and include comments by Frederick Davis.
The titles featured in the discussion:
The Green Revolution in the Global South: Science, Politics, and Unintended Consequences (2020) provides a nuanced account of the successes and unintended consequences of the Green Revolution as the movement’s technological innovations interacted with political, economic, and cultural systems in Latin America, Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. R. Douglas Hurt is professor of history at Purdue University.
Life Out of Balance: Homeostasis and Adaptation in a Darwinian World (April 2021) traces historical developments in physiology, ecology, behavior, and evolutionary biology during the decades following World War II when new ideas about biological self-regulation, adaptation, and fitness led to larger debates about the merits of such models as applied to larger systems, including society at large. Joel Hagen is professor emeritus of biology at Radford University.
The Defoliation of America: Agent Orange Chemicals, Citizens, and Protests (forthcoming in November) examines the use of phenoxy herbicides in and by the United States during the mid-twentieth century, and shows how pushback from different groups of citizens challenged and ultimately changed the way hazardous chemicals are regulated in the U.S. Amy M. Hay is associate professor of history at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
The NEXUS book series is devoted to the publication of high-quality scholarship in the history of the sciences and allied fields. Its broad reach encompasses science, technology, the environment, agriculture, and medicine, but includes intersections with other types of knowledge. Its essential concern is with the interface of nature and culture, broadly conceived, and it embraces an emerging intellectual constellation of new syntheses, methods, and approaches in the study of people and nature through time.
NEXUS is edited by Mark Hersey, Alexandra Hui, and Alan Marcus of Mississippi State University’s Department of History and published by the University of Alabama Press.