Hurricanes, historians, and environmental injustice: De-naturalizing “natural” disaster

Contributing editor Caroline Grego, whose dissertation is about the Great Sea Island Storm of 1893, reflects on historians’ and historically-minded thinkers’ scholarship on “natural disasters.” Header photograph by Marcus Yam for Getty Images. What we call “natural” disasters—hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslides, tornadoes—are not natural at all. This is true, first, because nothing about the experience of…

Remembering the Great Sea Island Storm of 1893: Mermaids, culpability, and the postbellum Lowcountry

Erstwhile editor Caroline Grego reflects on her dissertation research from the summer and explores the ways in which African Americans in the South Carolina and Georgia sea islands – the Lowcountry – understood the Great Sea Island Storm of 1893, a hurricane that killed thousands of African Americans.  Meteorologists later estimated that the storm was…

Finding the Words: An Account of UW-Madison’s 2016 CHE Graduate Student Symposium

Erstwhile editor Julia Frankenbach recounts her experience at “E is for Environment,” UW-Madison’s recent graduate student symposium hosted by the Center for Culture, History & the Environment (CHE). Last Saturday morning, an unfamiliar rosy light filtered through curtains. Expecting a rosy sunrise, I looked from my window on the fourth floor of a conference center…

Re-Membering the Llano: California’s Multiple Histories as an Island

Erstwhile blogger Julia Frankenbach reflects on historical and contemporary notions of California as an exotic place. California has come together more than once. In multiple histories—in matter and in mind—the massive swath of land on the western cusp of North America assembled and assumed a place on the continent. My efforts to assemble memories of…

California’s Response to Historic Drought: Too Little Too Late?

Erstwhile’s Sara Porterfield gives her thoughts on California’s new water restrictions and the prescient historians who anticipated the West’s current drought.  This past Wednesday California Governor Jerry Brown announced the state’s first-ever mandatory water restrictions in response to the severe drought gripping the state. While snowpack throughout the American West is at a record low, snowpack in…