An Environmental History of the Bering Strait

Episode 439

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How can we narrate human history in relation to the non-human world? In this inaugural installment of our new environmental humanities series Climes, we talk to Bathsheba Demuth about the craft of environmental history. She reads selections from her new book Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait, and we discuss how hunting, capitalism, and communism shaped the Arctic region of Beringia. 

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Contributor Bios

Bathsheba Demuth is an environmental historian at Brown University, where her research focuses on the Russian and North American Arctic. Her writing has appeared in publications from The New Yorker to The American Historical Review.
Chris Gratien is Assistant Professor of History at University of Virginia, where he teaches classes on global environmental history and the Middle East. He is currently preparing a monograph about the environmental history of the Cilicia region of the former Ottoman Empire from the 1850s until the 1950s.



Bowhead whale jawbones, Gambell Alaska. Photo credit: Bathsheba Demuth

Tundra outside Nome, Alaska. Photo credit: Bathsheba Demuth 

Abandoned mining equipment, outside Nome, Alaska. Photo credit: Bathsheba Demuth 

Gulag run, Chukotka. Photo credit: Bathsheba Demuth 

Lake reflection, outside Egvekinot, Chukotka (Russia). Photo credit: Bathsheba Demuth

Abandoned Soviet walrus-hunting boats, Plover Bay, Chukotka. Photo credit: Bathsheba Demuth


Kane, Joan Naviyuk. Milk Black Carbon. Pittsburgh, Pa: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017.

Slezkine, Yuri. Arctic Mirrors Russia and the Small Peoples of the North. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2016.

Senungetuk, J. E. Give or Take a Century: An Eskimo Chronicle. 1971.

Demuth, Bathsheba. Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait. 2019.

Lopez, Barry Holstun. Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape. 2014.

Marino, Elizabeth. Fierce Climate, Sacred Ground: An Ethnography of Climate Change in Shishmaref, Alaska. Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2015.

Whitehead, Hal, and Luke Rendell. The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins. 2015.

Ojanen, Carrie Ayaġaduk. Roughly for the North. 2018.

Krupnik, Igor. Arctic Adaptations: Native Whalers and Reindeer Herders of Northern Eurasia. 2016.

Okpik, Dg Nanouk. Corpse Whale. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012. 


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