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American Empire: Rosevelt's Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization by An American Empire, constructed over the last century, long ago overtook European colonialism, and it has been widely assumed that the new globalism it espoused took us "beyond geography." Neil Smith debunks that assumption, offering an incisive argument that American globalism had a distinct geography and was pieced together as part of a powerful geographical vision. The power of geography did not die with the twilight of European colonialism, but it did change fundamentally. That the inauguration of the American Century brought a loss of public geographical sensibility in the United States was itself a political symptom of the emerging empire. This book provides a vital geographical-historical context for understanding the power and limits of contemporary globalization, which can now be seen as representing the third of three distinct historical moments of U.S. global ambition. The story unfolds through a decisive account of the career of Isaiah Bowman (1878-1950), the most famous American geographer of the twentieth century. For nearly four decades Bowman operated around the vortex of state power, working to bring an American order to the global landscape. An explorer on the famous Machu Picchu expedition of 1911 who came to be known first as "Woodrow Wilson's geographer," and later as Frankin D. Roosevelt's, Bowman was present at the creation of U.S. liberal foreign policy. A quarter-century later, Bowman was at the center of Roosevelt's State Department, concerned with the disposition of Germany and heightened U.S. access to European colonies; he was described by Dean Acheson as a key "architect of the United Nations." In that period he was a leader in American science, served as president of Johns Hopkins University, and became an early and vociferous cold warrior. A complicated, contradictory, and at times controversial figure who was very much in the public eye, he appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Bowman's career as a geographer in an era when the value of geography was deeply questioned provides a unique window into the contradictory uses of geographical knowledge in the construction of the American Empire. Smith's historical excavation reveals, in broad strokes yet with lively detail, that today's American-inspired globalization springs not from the 1980s but from two earlier moments in 1919 and 1945, both of which ended in failure. By recharting the geography of this history, Smith brings the politics--and the limits--of contemporary globalization sharply into focus.
Publication Date: 2004
The Fabric of Space: Water, Modernity, and the Urban Imagination by A study of water at the intersection of landscape and infrastructure in Paris, Berlin, Lagos, Mumbai, Los Angeles, and London. Water lies at the intersection of landscape and infrastructure, crossing between visible and invisible domains of urban space, in the tanks and buckets of the global South and the vast subterranean technological networks of the global North. In this book, Matthew Gandy considers the cultural and material significance of water through the experiences of six cities: Paris, Berlin, Lagos, Mumbai, Los Angeles, and London. Tracing the evolving relationships among modernity, nature, and the urban imagination, from different vantage points and through different periods, Gandy uses water as a lens through which to observe both the ambiguities and the limits of nature as conventionally understood. Gandy begins with the Parisian sewers of the nineteenth century, captured in the photographs of Nadar, and the reconstruction of subterranean Paris. He moves on to Weimar-era Berlin and its protection of public access to lakes for swimming, the culmination of efforts to reconnect the city with nature. He considers the threat of malaria in Lagos, where changing geopolitical circumstances led to large-scale swamp drainage in the 1940s. He shows how the dysfunctional water infrastructure of Mumbai offers a vivid expression of persistent social inequality in a postcolonial city. He explores the incongruous concrete landscapes of the Los Angeles River. Finally, Gandy uses the fictional scenario of a partially submerged London as the starting point for an investigation of the actual hydrological threats facing that city.
Publication Date: 2014
Tangled Roots: The Appalachian Trail and American Environmental Politics by The Appalachian Trail, a thin ribbon of wilderness running through the densely populated eastern United States, offers a refuge from modern society and a place apart from human ideas and institutions. But as environmental historian--and thru-hiker--Sarah Mittlefehldt argues, the trail is also a conduit for community engagement and a model for public-private cooperation and environmental stewardship. In Tangled Roots, Mittlefehldt tells the story of the trail's creation. The project was one of the first in which the National Park Service attempted to create public wilderness space within heavily populated, privately owned lands. Originally a regional grassroots endeavor, under federal leadership the trail project retained unprecedented levels of community involvement. As citizen volunteers came together and entered into conversation with the National Parks Service, boundaries between "local" and "nonlocal," "public" and "private," "amateur" and "expert" frequently broke down. Today, as Mittlefehldt tells us, the Appalachian Trail remains an unusual hybrid of public and private efforts and an inspiring success story of environmental protection. Watch the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch'v=AFyhuGqbCGc
Publication Date: 2013
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