Announcement: Special Issue on Histories of Transport, Mobility and Environment

It is a pleasure to announce the publication of the special issue of the Journal of Transport History on the histories of transport, mobility, and environment. Please find the table of contents below or visit the journal website here.

Thomas Zeller, University of Maryland, Guest Editor (

Journal of Transport History
Volume 35, Number 2, December 2014
Histories of Transport, Mobility and Environment

Thomas Zeller, “Editorial: Histories of Transport, Mobility and Environment,” iii-v.

Victor Seow, “Socialist drive: The First Auto Works and the contradictions of connectivity in the early People’s Republic of China,” 145-161.

Cory Parker, “Negotiating the waters: Canoe and steamship mobility in the Pacific Northwest,” 162-182.

Christopher Wells, “Rebuilding the city, leaving it behind: Transportation and the environmental crisis in turn-of-the-century American cities,” 183-199.

Eike-Christian Heine, “Connect and divide: On the history of the Kiel Canal,” 200-219.

Thomas Robertson, “The bird’s-eye view: Toward an environmental history of aviation,” 220-224.

Matthew K. Chew, “A picture worth forty-one words: Charles Elton, introduced species and the 1936 Admiralty map of British Empire shipping,” 225-235.

Christopher F. Jones, “Landscapes of intensification: Transport and energy in the U.S. mid-Atlantic, 1820-1930,” 236-241.

New book: New Natures

Envirotechies Dolly Jørgensen, Finn Arne Jørgensen, and Sara B. Pritchard have a new edited volume out – New Natures: Joining Environmental History with Science and Technology Studies, published with University of Pittsburgh PressNew Natures broadens the dialogue between the disciplines of science and technology studies (STS) and environmental history in hopes of deepening and even transforming understandings of human-nature interactions. The volume presents historical studies that engage with key STS theories, offering models for how these theories can help crystallize central lessons from empirical histories, facilitate comparative analysis, and provide a language for complicated historical phenomena. Overall, the collection exemplifies the fruitfulness of cross-disciplinary thinking.

new natures cover

Table of contents


Sara B. Pritchard – “Joining Environmental History with Science and Technology Studies: Promises, Challenges, and Contributions”

Part I. Ways of Knowing
Anya Zilberstein – “The Natural History of Early Northeastern America: An Inexact Science”

Frank Uekotter – “Farming and Not Knowing: Agnotology Meets Environmental History”

Dolly Jørgensen – “Environmentalists on Both Sides: Enactments in the California Rigs-to-Reefs Debate”

Finn Arne Jørgensen – “The Backbone of Everyday Environmentalism: Cultural Scripting and Technological Systems”

Part II. Constructions of Environmental Expertise
Kevin C. Armitage – “The Soil Doctor: Hugh Hammond Bennett, Soil Conservation, and the Search for a Democratic Science”

Michael Egan – “Communicating Knowledge: The Swedish Mercury Group and Vernacular Science, 1965–1972”

Eunice Blavascunas – “Signals in the Forest: Cultural Boundaries of Science in Białowieża, Poland”

Part III. Networks, mobilities, and Boundaries
Tiago Saraiva – “The Production and Circulation of Standardized Karakul Sheep and Frontier Settlement in the Empires of Hitler, Mussolini, and Salazar”

Thomas D. Finger – “Trading Spaces: Transferring Energy and Organizing Power in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Grain Trade”

Stephen Bocking – “Situated yet Mobile: Examining the Environmental History of Arctic Ecological Science”

David Tomblin – “White Mountain Apache Boundary-Work as an Instrument of Ecopolitical Liberation and Landscape Change”

Valerie A. Olson – “NEOecology: The Solar System’s Emerging Environmental History and Politics”

Sverker Sörlin – “Epilogue: Preservation in the Age of Entanglement: STS and the History of Future Urban Nature”

Call for Papers: Histories of Transport, Mobility, and Environment

Journal of Transport History, Special Issue

In 1844 William Wordsworth wrote passionately about a railway that was desecrating the tranquility of the English Lake District, if not setting fire to woodland and dividing ancient fields and ecologies. Across the Atlantic in the same century, Henry Thoreau expressed gratitude that people could not yet fly “and lay waste the sky as well as the earth”.

‘Conquest’, defilement and intrusion have been labels since pinned on many transport investments and mass traveling. Deforestation, air pollution, oil spills, noise, landscape leveling, water table lowering, and habitat change have all been associated with environmentally blind infrastructure expansion and mobility in the past. Conversely, there have been transport projects linked with landscape beautification, and mobility may be said to have increased appreciation of the sanctity and fragility of wilderness. Some environmental activism has been directed at transport projects. Historians of transport and mobility as well as environmental historians have dealt with these issues, but more research is needed.

We invite scholarly contributions that examine the historical relationship between transport and mobility and the natural environment for a proposed Special Issue of the Journal of Transport History scheduled for December 2014 (vol 35 [2]). Contributions may be substantial library and archive-based research essays of 8,000 words (including endnotes and Abstract), or shorter pieces (1,500 words) for the Journal’s ‘Surveys & Speculations’ and its ‘Exhibitions & Museum Reviews’ sections.

In existence for over 50 years, The Journal of Transport History publishes scholarly research and commentary on the history of transport, travel, tourism and mobility, including their relationship with planning and policy.

The Special Issue will be guest edited Thomas Zeller, author of Driving Germany: the Landscape of the German Autobahn, 1930-1970 (2007). Together with JTH editor Gordon Pirie, he will select papers based on their originality and scholarly rigour, but will also strive for broad coverage of periods, themes, continents and transport modes. Papers will be subject to a double-blind review process. Conceptually progressive research is especially encouraged. A second call will be made in June 2013. Prospective authors should contact Thomas Zeller ( and Gordon Pirie (

Final submissions for the JTH Special Environmental Issue should be lodged by 5 August 2013. More detail about the JTH, and back issues, are online at

New Book: The Story of N

Hugh Gorman’s The Story of N: A Social History of the Nitrogen Cycle and the Challenge of Sustainability examines the process by which humans, first, learned to bypass an important ecological constraint and, second, are learning to address concerns associated with having done so.


The ecological constraint, which existed up to the early twentieth century, involves a limit on the capacity of nitrogen-fixing bacteria to place nitrogen compounds into circulation. Given that protein is about sixteen percent nitrogen, this constraint translated into a limit on how much food and fiber could be produced by agricultural societies and, ultimately, on the size of cities. Indeed, by the nineteenth century, the demand for nitrogen compounds in Western Europe, not only for food and fiber but also for explosives, had exceeded the capacity of bacteria to supply what was needed. Imports of nitrogen (in the form of food, cotton, and material such as Peruvian guano) helped, but scientists and national leaders realized that flows of this material could be interrupted by war. They, and the late-nineteenth century scientists who informed them, spoke of an impending nitrogen crisis.

The introduction in 1913 of the Haber-Bosch process for converting inert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia freed humans from their dependency on nitrogen-fixing bacteria and put an end to the nineteenth-century nitrogen crisis. However, this innovation (and the unintentional fixing of nitrogen through combustion processes) had consequences. Today, societies fix nitrogen on the same scale as the world’s bacteria, resulting in (from a human perspective) too much nitrogen entering circulation rather than too little. The second half of the The Story of N examines the process of societies learning to address these concerns. It suggests that the notion of sustainability involves, at least in part, in societies adaptively learning to establish limits when innovations push them into uncharted ethical territory.

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New book: Making A Green Machine

Finn Arne Jørgensen‘s book Making A Green Machine: The Infrastructure of Beverage Container Recycling is out!

Consider an empty bottle or can, one of the hundreds of billions of beverage containers that are discarded worldwide every year. Empty containers have been at the center of intense political controversies, technological innovation processes, and the modern environmental movement. Making a Green Machine examines the development of the Scandinavian beverage container deposit-refund system, which has the highest return rates in the world, from 1970 to present. Finn Arne Jørgensen investigates the challenges the system faced when exported internationally and explores the critical role of technological infrastructures and consumer convenience in modern recycling. His comparative framework charts the complex network of business and political actors involved in the development of the reverse vending machine (RVM) and bottle deposit legislation to better understand the different historical trajectories empty beverage containers have taken across markets, including the U.S. The RVM has served as more than a hole in the wall–it began simply as a tool for grocers who had to handle empty refillable glass bottles, but has become a green machine to redeem the empty beverage container, helping both business and consumers participate in environmental actions.

Visit the book’s page at Rutgers University Press:

Tim LeCain’s book chosen as “Outstanding Academic Title for 2009”

Timothy LeCain’s new envirotech book, Mass Destruction: The Men and Giant Mines That Wired America and Scarred the Planet (Rutgers University Press, 2009), has been chosen as an “Outstanding Academic Title for 2009” by Choice, the review journal of the American Library Association. Every year in the January issue, in print and online, Choice publishes a list of Outstanding Academic Titles that were reviewed during the previous calendar year. This prestigious list reflects the best of the more than 7,000 scholarly titles reviewed by Choice that year and brings with it the extraordinary recognition of the academic library community. Mass Destruction, the Choice review notes, is a “skillfully and eloquently written” work whose “clarity and reason . . . should appeal to a wide audience.” More information and all the latest reviews of Mass Destruction are available at the author’s website:

New book: Horses at Work

Horses at Work: Harnessing Power in Industrial America
Ann Norton Greene
Harvard University Press, 2008

Historians have long assumed that new industrial machines and power sources eliminated work animals from nineteenth-century America, yet a bird’s-eye view of nineteenth-century society would show millions of horses supplying the energy necessary for industrial development. Horses were ubiquitous in cities and on farms, providing power for transportation, construction, manufacturing, and agriculture. On Civil War battlefields, thousands of horses labored and died for the Union and the Confederacy hauling wagons and mechanized weaponry.

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The Sustainable Development Paradox

The January 2009 issue of the E-Journal of Solidarity, Sustainability, and Nonviolence has been posted.  As always, it is open access.  Simply click the following link:

The Sustainable Development Paradox

A series of articles on “dimensions of sustainable development” is being published.  The January 2009 issue shows the impossibility of integrating the social, economic, and political dimensions of sustainable development unless homo economicus becomes homo solidarius.

Please post and/or forward this notice to friends and colleagues who might be interested in the complex issues of human  development,
international solidarity, and environmental sustainability. See the archive for links to previously posted issues (annotated with
content outlines):

May 2005 to December 2008

The current economic and environmental crises confirm the importance of the issues we are researching.  Any feedback is deeply appreciated.

Luis T. Gutierrez, Ph.D.
The Pelican Web
Editor, Solidarity, Sustainability, and Nonviolence