324 pages, 6 x 9
10 b&w photos, 13 maps, 3 illustrations, 2 tables
Release Date:01 Jul 2014
Release Date:08 Nov 2013
Release Date:08 Nov 2013


History, Technology, and the Making of Northern Environments

UBC Press
The idea of North is a multivalent concept. It is geographical, but more than just Arctic; it is both an imagined space and a place of harsh challenges. These challenges resonate with each other across the northern world, shaping different areas of the North in many similar ways. Distinctive northern environments are created as humans adapt to climatic and geographic conditions while simultaneously adapting the landscapes to their own needs with technologies, trade, and social organization. This collection of essays argues that the unique environments of the North have been borne of the relationship between humans and nature. Approaching the topic through the lens of environmental history, the contributors examine a broad range of geographies, including those of Iceland and other islands in the Northern Atlantic, Sweden, Finland, Russia, the Pacific Northwest, and Canada, over a time span ranging from CE 800 to 2000. Northscapes is bound together by the intellectual project of investigating the North both as an imagined and mythologized space and as an environment shaped by human technology. The North offers a valuable analytical framework that surpasses nation-states and transgresses political and historical borders. This volume develops rich explorations of the entanglements of environmental and technological history in the northern regions of the globe.

Northscapes will be of interest to scholars and students interested in environmental history, northern studies, and the history of technology.

A welcome exploration of the illusory boundary between technologies and environments, offering Canadians a timely reminder that technology is more than icebreakers and stealth snowmobiles, even as it demonstrates that the North has a long history and belongs to many nations. Graeme Wynn, Professor of Geography, University of British Columbia
Northscapes offers a compelling interdisciplinary collection of essays that uncovers the intersections of technology (broadly construed) and environments in the North. It is at once northern history, environmental history, history of technology, and, at some levels, global history. Adam M. Sowards, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Idaho

Dolly Jørgensen is an environmental historian in the Department of Ecology and Environmental Science at Umeå University in Sweden. Sverker Sörlin is a professor of environmental history at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Sweden.

Contributors: Lisa Cooke, Marionne Cronin, Bathsheba Demuth, Jane Harrison, Ryan Tucker Jones, Finn Arne Jørgensen, Arní Daníel Júlíusson, Unnur Birna Karlsdóttir, Jan Kunnas, Simo Laakkonen, Julia Lajus, Seija A. Niemi, Helga Ögmundardóttir, and Anna Gudrún Thórhallsdóttir

Introduction  Making the Action Visible, Making Environments in Northern Landscapes / Dolly Jørgensen and Sverker Sörlin

Part 1: Exploring the North

1 “A Cruel Climate without Any Kind of Art”: European Natural History and the Northern Nature of the Other Pacific, 1740-1840 / Ryan Tucker Jones

2 How Fossils Gave the First Hints of Climate Change: The Explorer A.E. Nordenskiöld’s Passion for Fossils and Northern Environmental History / Seija A. Niemi

3 Technological Heroes: Images of the Arctic in the Age of Polar Aviation / Marionne Cronin

Part 2: Colonizing the North

4 Mounds, Middens, and Social Landscapes: Viking-Norse Settlement of the North Atlantic, c. AD 850-1250 / Jane Harrison

5 In Search of Instructive Models: The Russian State at a Crossroads to Conquering the North / Julia Lajus

Part 3: Working the North

6 Traversal Technology Transfer: The Transfer of Agricultural Knowledge between Peripheries in the North / Jan Kunnas

7 The Sheep, the Market, and the Soil: Environmental Destruction in the Icelandic Highlands, 1880-1910 / Anna Gudrún Thórhallsdóttir, Árni Daníel Júlíusson, and Helga Ögmundardóttir

8 More Things on Heaven and Earth: Modernism and Reindeer in Chukotka and Alaska / Bathsheba Demuth

9 A Touch of Frost: Gender, Class, Technology, and the Urban Environment in an Industrializing Nordic City / Simo Laakkonen

Part 4: Imagining the North

10 North Takes Place in Dawson City, Yukon, Canada / Lisa Cooke

11 Iceland and the North: An Idea of Belonging and Being Apart / Unnur Birna Karlsdóttir

Epilogue  The Networked North: Thinking about the Past, Present, and Future of Environmental Histories of the North / Finn Arne Jørgensen

Selected Bibliography

List of Contributors


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