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All Creatures,

Episode 134: History of the Arctic w/Dr Bathsheba Demuth

January 09, 2020


Bathsheba Demuth is an Assistant Professor of History and Environment and Society at Brown University, where she specializes in the US and Russian Arctic. Her first book, Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait  (Norton, 2019) examines capitalist and socialist attempts to transform northern lands, seas, and Indigenous peoples, and was named one of the best books of 2019 by NPR and Nature.  Demuth’s writing on energy, animals, and past environmental change has appeared in publications from The American Historical Review to The New Yorker.

Floating Coast

Description of Dr. Demuth’s book can be read on Amazon HERE

Brief synopsis:

Whales and walruses, caribou and fox, gold and oil: through the stories of these animals and resources, Bathsheba Demuth reveals how people have turned ecological wealth in a remote region into economic growth and state power for more than 150 years. The first-ever comprehensive history of Beringia, the Arctic land and waters stretching from Russia to Canada, Floating Coast breaks away from familiar narratives to provide a fresh and fascinating perspective on an overlooked landscape. The unforgiving territory along the Bering Strait had long been home to humans―the Inupiat and Yupik in Alaska, and the Yupik and Chukchi in Russia―before Americans and Europeans arrived with revolutionary ideas for progress. Rapidly, these frigid lands and waters became the site of an ongoing experiment: How, under conditions of extreme scarcity, would the great modern ideologies of capitalism and communism control and manage the resources they craved?


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