Resources for Future Archives

Here you can find the sources that have been swapped and the categories that have been rotated by the H4F team from this shortlist.

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What is the historical and ongoing relationship between colonialism, climate change, and the biodiversity crisis? What are connections between colonialism, resource extraction, and renewable energy?

In the wake of recent raids by Canadian militarized police of the Wet’suwet’en activist camps opposing a natural gas pipeline, the podcast Media Indigena: Indigenous Current Affairs released “Resource Resistance,” a two-part retrospective (available here and here). You’ll hear host Rick Harp and invited guests—such as Drs. Ken Williams, Brock Pitawanakwat, Kim Tallbear, and Candis Callison—discuss key issues at the intersection of colonialism, fossil fuels, and the climate crisis.

Structural inequalities embedded on a global scale allow some communities to remain relatively untouched by the proliferation and use of toxic chemicals, while other people disproportionately are exposed to hazardous waste sites in a way that amplifies the burdens of settler-colonial and racist violence. In “Afterlife and Decolonial Chemical Relations” for Cultural Anthropology, Dr. Michelle Murphy writes about how this new age of toxicity represents “a condition that is shared, but unevenly so, and which divides us as much as it binds us.”

How do the structural legacies of colonial occupation and racial violence shape the processes of modern disaster relief and planning? For one, this can be explained through the idea of “disaster colonialism.” In a recent article, Dr. Danielle Rivera talks about this concept in the context of Puerto Rico and the aftermath of hurricane Maria in 2017, the increasing intensity and frequency of such hurricanes on the Caribbean island, and “how procedural vulnerability is deepened through disasters and subsequently leveraged to deepen coloniality.” You can also listen to this episode of the Geographies of Risk podcast, in which Rivera discusses disaster colonialism further.

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*Ecosystems / Biodiversity

What can history tell us about our rapidly changing environments?

In Sunburnt Country: The History and Future of Climate Change in Australia, Dr. Joëlle Gergis looks at the long-term history of Australian climate variability. You can also listen to this audio lecture at the State Library Victoria, in which Gergis discusses themes from the book.

Wetlands have received increasing appreciation for their extraordinary biodiversity, cultural significance, and capacity to provide crucial refuge to animals and plants during droughts, buffer coastal storms, and absorb atmospheric carbon. However, most of these ecosystems have been destroyed by centuries of urbanization, irrigation, dam building, and drainage. In Wetlands in a Dry Land, Dr. Emily O’Gorman used the diverse history of the Murray-Darling Basin of eastern Australia to argue that new ways of understanding, managing, and relating to wetlands are needed to combat the climate crisis. For more on this book, check out this episode of New Books Network.

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^Expertise and Trust

What can history tell us about the role of expertise, the politics of climate science, and the nature of trust?

Indigenous knowledge and expertise are fundamental to understanding and addressing the ecological effects of climate change. However, many organizations and researchers have been strikingly slow to recognize this fact. At the International Symposium on Indigenous Communities and Climate Change back in 2018, Dr. Candis Callison discussed this tension in greater detail. You can listen to this presentation here. For more, check out Callison’s How Climate Change Comes to Matter: The Communal Life of Facts.

In a recent article for Scientific American, called “To Understand How Science Denial Works, Look to History,” Dr. Naomi Oreskes focuses on the prevalence and power of creating scientific doubt. If you are interested in learning more about science skepticism and denial, you might also want to check out Oreskes’ other work, such as the book Why Trust Science? or this TED talk on “Why We Should Trust Scientists.” 

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What futures do we want and what would we rather avoid?

In “Strike for Sunshine” for The Nation, Kate Aronoff, Alyssa Battistoni, Daniel Aldana Cohen, and Thea Riofrancos draw on the history of organized labor to make the case for a Green New Deal. To learn more, also check out their A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal

In “Indigenous Climate Change Studies: Indigenizing Futures, Decolonizing the Anthropocene” for English Language Notes, Potawatomi scholar-activist Kyle Powys Whyte explains climate vulnerability as an intensification of colonialism, and how Indigenous studies offers crucial decolonizing approaches to address the climate crisis.

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Where does climate change and biodiversity loss intersect with health, including disease, pollution, and environmental racism?

In “Disabled People Cannot Be ‘Expected Losses’ in the Climate Crisis” for Truth Out, Dr. Julia Watts Belser points to public failures to address disability during climate disruptions and how the framing of physical vulnerability obscures a deeper, political story about disability discrimination. For more on the history of ableism and stigma in public health messaging, see Dr. Aparna Nair’s “Public Health Campaigns and the ‘Threat’ of Disability,” part of Wellcome Stories.

In “Checkbox Colonization: The Erasure of Indigenous People In Chronic Illness” for Bitch Media, Dr. Jen Deerinwater writes about settler colonialism in the U.S. healthcare system, particularly as it impacts Indigenous people and people with disabilities and chronic illnesses.

In “Poisoning Tallevast” for the Boston Review, Dr. James Manigault-Bryant, Ruby Bagwyn, and Dr. José Constantine reconstruct how corporate and state actors knowingly withheld information about environmental contamination from the residents of the predominantly Black community of Tallevast, Florida. “Environmental racism is global,” they write, “but it is particularly common to Black communities in the U.S. South, where state authorities tend to allow more latitude to industrial polluters.” 

What are the connections between COVID-19, the climate crisis, and systemic racism? Drawing on historical disaster research and the history of environmental entanglements, Dr. Eleonora Rohland explores where these crises overlap in this open-access article in the Journal for the History of Environment and Society. You can learn more about these connections in an interview with Rohland for Bielefeld University’s Aktuell

Dr. Ingrid Waldron’s There’s Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous and Black Communities examines the legacy of environmental racism and its health impacts on Indigenous and Black communities across Canada. The book inspired a documentary of the same name, directed by Elliot Page and Ian Daniel, depicting the Black and Indigenous women who have been advocating for their communities in Nova Scotia (watch the trailer here).

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*Role of History

What has history to do with the climate and biodiversity crisis? How should historical practice change in light of these crises?

How do you teach climate history? What responsibilities does it bear? What good are historians, steeped in messy contingencies, to students who are “angry that they inherit a world routinely described in terms of the worst disaster movie ever”? Dr. Joyce Chaplin discusses strategies for teaching climate history in a piece for the Uncommon Sense blog, building off an earlier article, “Ogres and Omnivores: Early American Historians and Climate History.” 

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