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date: 14 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the use of environmental history to investigate the construction of race and ethnicity. In particular, it considers how environmental historians and scholars in allied disciplines, such as historical geography and the history of science and medicine, have integrated race and ethnicity into their work. The chapter begins with a discussion of some of the earlier studies that addressed the environmental experiences of Native Americans. It then looks at the history of slavery as told through the lens of environmental history, how the dual labor system relegated non-whites to bottom-tier jobs in the extractive industries of the North American west, and how environmental reforms affected racial and ethnic minorities. In addition, the chapter highlights the exclusionary tendencies of conservation, wilderness protection, and outdoor recreation with respect to racial and ethnic minorities. Finally, it looks at how environmental historians have deconstructed environmentalism and environmental justice in America.

Keywords: environmental history, race, ethnicity, slavery, extractive industries, minorities, conservation, outdoor recreation, environmentalism, environmental justice

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