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Among the most far-reaching effects of the modern environmental movement was the widespread acknowledgment that human beings were inescapably part of a larger ecosystem. With this book, Linda Nash gives us a wholly original and much longer history of “ecological” ideas of the body as that history unfolded in California’s Central Valley. Taking us from nineteenth-century fears of miasmas and faith in wilderness cures to the recent era of chemical pollution and cancer clusters, Nash charts how Americans have connected their diseases to race and place as well as dirt and germs. In this account, the rise of germ theory and the pushing aside of an earlier environmental approach to illness constituted not a clear triumph of modern biomedicine but rather a brief period of modern amnesia. As Nash shows us, place-based accounts of illness re-emerged in the postwar decades, galvanizing environmental protest against smog and toxic chemicals. Carefully researched and richly conceptual, Inescapable Ecologies brings critically important insights to the histories of environment, culture, and public health, while offering a provocative commentary on the human relationship to the larger world.
List of Illustrations
1. Body and Environment in an Era of Colonization
2. Placing Health and Disease
3. Producing a Sanitary Landscape
4. Modern Landscapes and Ecological Bodies
5. Contesting the Space of Disease
Linda Nash is Associate Professor of History at the University of Washington.
“A significant contribution to the history of environmental quality.”—Jama
“There are many fresh insights in this well written, theoretically lively, and painstakingly researched book.”—Journal Of American History
“This book is stunning. The breadth and depth of Nash’s sources are remarkable in and of themselves, and I was very impressed with her ability to integrate archival data and social-theoretical work in a seamless way.”—Julie Guthman Association Of American Geographers
“Linda Nash has written a book that will change the history of human health and the environment. . . . ’Inescapable Ecologies’ is likely to have a bigger impact outside the state, and Nash’s insights will be applied around the world.”—Jon Christensen San Francisco Chronicle
"A breath-taking first book. Nash does a terrific job."—Vicki Ruiz, author of From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America
"An excellent book that treats environmental history in a fresh new way."—Elliott West, author of The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers and the Rush to Colorado
"This book brilliantly fits human bodies into environmental history and finds a place for landscape in the history of medicine."—Warwick Anderson, author of Colonial Pathologies: American Tropical Medicine, Race, and Hygiene in the Philippines
John Dunning Prize, American Historical Association
Pacific Coast Branch Award of the AHA, Paciffic Coast Branch, AHA