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Over the past five hundred years, North Americans have increasingly turned to mining to produce many of their basic social and cultural objects. From cell phones to cars and roadways, metal pots to wall tile and even talcum powder, mineral-intensive products have become central to modern North American life. As this process has unfolded, mining has also indelibly shaped the natural world and North Americans’ relationship with it. Mountains have been honeycombed, rivers poisoned, and forests leveled. The effects of these environmental transformations have fallen unevenly across North American societies.
Mining North America examines these developments. Drawing on the work of scholars from Mexico, the United States, and Canada, this book explores how mining has shaped North America over the last half millennium. It covers an array of minerals and geographies while seeking to draw mining into the core debates that animate North American environmental history generally. Taken together, the authors' contributions make a powerful case for the centrality of mining in forging North American environments and societies.
J. R. McNeill is Professor of History and University Professor at Georgetown University. His most recent books are The Great Acceleration: An Environmental History of the Anthropocene since 1945 and Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620–1914.
George Vrtis is Associate Professor of History and Environmental Studies at Carleton College.