Book ID: CBB845208422

The Life of Permafrost: A History of Frozen Earth in Russian and Soviet Science (2021)


Chu, Pey-Yi (Author)

University of Toronto Press
Publication date: 2021
Language: English

Publication Date: 2021
Physical Details: 304

In the Anthropocene, the thawing of frozen earth due to global warming has drawn worldwide attention to permafrost. Contemporary scientists define permafrost as ground that maintains a negative temperature for at least two years. But where did this particular conception of permafrost originate, and what alternatives existed? The Life of Permafrost provides an intellectual history of permafrost, placing the phenomenon squarely in the political, social, and material context of Russian and Soviet science. Pey-Yi Chu shows that understandings of frozen earth were shaped by two key experiences in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. On one hand, the colonization and industrialization of Siberia nourished an engineering perspective on frozen earth that viewed the phenomenon as an aggregate physical structure: ground. On the other, a Russian and Soviet tradition of systems thinking encouraged approaching frozen earth as a process, condition, and space tied to planetary exchanges of energy and matter. Aided by the US militarization of the Arctic during the Cold War, the engineering view of frozen earth as an obstacle to construction became dominant. The Life of Permafrost tells the fascinating story of how permafrost came to acquire life as Russian and Soviet scientists studied, named, and defined it.

Reviewed By

Review Dmitry Arzyutov (2022) Review of "The Life of Permafrost: A History of Frozen Earth in Russian and Soviet Science". American Historical Review (pp. 1034-1035). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Bernstein, Seth
Byford, Andy
Cherny, Robert
Grant, Susan
Hessen, Boris Mikhailovich
Hyman, Ludmila
Agricultural History
Historia Scientiarum: International Journal of the History of Science Society of Japan
Archives Internationales d'Histoire des Sciences
Aries: Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism
Environmental History
History of Education
Cornell University Press
University of Toronto
Taylor & Francis
Anthem Press
Palgrave Macmillan
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
Science and politics
Technological innovation
Canguilhem, Georges
Lysenko, Trofim Denisovich
Trotsky, Leon
Vygotskii, Lev Semenovich
Time Periods
20th century, early
19th century
20th century, late
20th century
18th century
21st century
Soviet Union
Russian Empire
United States

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