Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Straight

Wed, Oct 27, 2021 7:30 PM CDT

This is an online event, please register HERE.

Whales and walruses, caribou and fox, gold and oil: through the stories of these animals and resources, Bathsheba De­muth, an environmental historian who teaches at Brown University, reveals how people have turned ecological wealth in a remote region into economic growth and state power for more than 150 years.

Floating Coast, the first-ever comprehensive history of Beringia, the Arctic land and waters stretching from Russia to Canada, breaks away from familiar narratives to provide a fresh and fascinating perspective on an overlooked landscape. The unforgiving territory along the Bering Strait had long been home to humans - the Inupiat and Yupik in Alaska, and the Yupik and Chukchi in Russia - before Americans and Eu­ropeans arrived with revolutionary ideas for progress. Rapidly, these frigid lands and waters became the site of an ongoing experiment: how, under conditions of extreme scarcity, would the great modern ideologies of capitalism and commu­nism control and manage the resources they craved?

Demuth draws on her own experience living with and interviewing indig­enous people in the region, as well as from archival sources to show how the social, political, and environmental clashed in this liminal space. Bringing a fresh and visionary spin to the writing of human history. Floating Coast is a profoundly resonant tale of the dynamic changes and unforeseen consequences that immense human needs and ambitions have brought, and will continue to bring, to a finite planet.


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