Thesis ID: CBB357549095

Ecology, Settler Colonialism, and the Environments of the American Midwest: The Science and Politics of Ecological Restoration Since 1950 (2023)


Colonization has transformed the landscapes of the American Midwest and compromised the region’s resources and ecologies. In response, governments, environmental scientists, and Indigenous nations have undertaken myriad efforts over the past century to restore Midwestern environments. Yet the appropriate goals and techniques for this work have been deeply contested. This thesis explores the scientific, political, and cultural meanings of ecological restoration in the region. Comparison of different forms of restoration reveals the contingency, malleability, and historical pitfalls of restoration knowledge and practices. By framing the pursuit as a problem of scientific, historical, or technical knowledge, practitioners have often neglected the political and cultural ramifications of restoration efforts. At the same time, restoration practices have influenced the intellectual, environmental, and political history of the Midwest in the twentieth century. The efforts of Midwestern scientists and public agencies have advanced wildlife and ecosystem conservation in the region, but have at times exacerbated environmental injustices and inequalities. More recent wild rice conservation efforts by Ojibwe governments demonstrate that, depending on how the framework has been constructed, ecological restoration has served as a tool for reclaiming Indigenous sovereignty as well as a vehicle for settler colonialism.

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Authors & Contributors
Almassi, Ben
Daniel, Robert S.
Doyle, Martin
Gioielli, Robert
Lave, Rebecca
Lubick, George M
Agricultural History
Cold War History
History and Technology
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Science, Technology, and Human Values
Social Studies of Science
University of California Press
Harvard University
Harvard University Press
Historical Division, Office of Administrative Services, Office of the Chief of Engineers
Island Press
Kent State University Press
Restoration ecology
Environmental sciences
Political activists and activism
Sagan, Carl
Time Periods
20th century, late
20th century
21st century
19th century
20th century, early
United States
Midwestern states (U.S.)
Northeastern states (U.S.)
Soviet Union
Baltimore (Maryland, U.S.)
Columbia River
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
National Institute of Health (U.S.)
Indianapolis and Bellefontaine Railroad
Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis Railway Company
Chicago and Rock Island Railroad Company

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