Happy Two Years: We’re Expanding the EHN Team

Editor’s Note: It’s EHN’s two-year anniversary this week! We’re celebrating all week long by featuring pieces by both old and new friends. But first, an exciting development behind the scenes. 

When I started EHN two years ago, I could not have imagined that it would grow into the platform that it is today. EHN was, and still is, a way for me to connect with like-minded allies and find a sense of community, and show that the environment-related work and expertise of graduate students and early career scholars who identify as women, trans and/or non binary is relevant and important. 

The EHN team is made of contributors who volunteered to serve in these capacities. As our contributor community has grown and we have the opportunity to share more work through EHN, we found the need to expand our editorial team. Because our goal is to publish and promote work that de-centers whiteness, we knew our editorial team needed to reflect the diversity of the EHN community as a whole.

In light of this, I am thrilled to officially welcome Shelby Brewster, Anastasia Day, Natascha Otoya, Asmae Ourkiya, Evelyn Ramiel, and Diana Valencia to the EHN team. As EHN is a volunteer-based platform, I’m grateful that they are willing to dedicate a chunk of their time and effort as a content editor, and do not take this for granted. With their help, we look forward to sharing the environmental-related work and expertise of many new contributors on EHN in the months to come. We’ve also got some new things up our sleeve, too!

A big thanks to our contributors for sharing their insights to research, interests, and academic life in honest, authentic ways, and to our readers for their support in these last two years. Also, a special shoutout to Lindsay Marshall, Alyssa Kreikemeier, and Emily Webster. I am grateful for their involvement after volunteering to pitch in last year, and for their help to manage and grow EHN. Luckily, I will be able to continue to count on them. Lindsay will stay on as our community coordinator, and Aly and Emily will switch to the new position of review editor.

As always, if you have any suggestions or ideas, or want to contribute, make sure to get in touch with us. But for now, I would like to introduce Shelby, Anastasia, Natascha, Asmae, Evelyn, and Diana—and who better to do that than themselves?

Shelby Brewster

“I’ve always been a disciplinary rogue who prefers to work across fields. So it’s hard to say exactly when and how I came to environmental history, but I have been thinking about climate change and environmental relations since the first year of my PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies. As I’ve gone through graduate school, I have been fortunate to benefit from the work of so many scholars in other fields, from history to anthropology to history of art to literary studies. I came across EHN last year, when I met some other contributors, and I felt like I had found my people! Democratizing access to knowledge is something that is very important to me, and platforms like EHN provide space for the creation and diffusion of exciting scholarship in ways that are accessible to wide audiences. EHN is such a vibrant community and I admire its mission to uplift the voices of women, trans and/or non-binary folks. I look forward to continuing to build up the EHN community, foster conversations, and push environmental history in new directions.”

Anastasia Day

“While some people find environmental history accidentally through their studies of history, I found history accidentally through my commitment to studying the environment. Coming from a major in Philosophy, I relied heavily on academic organizations, primarily the American Society for Environmental History, to connect me to people with the same passions as me. Enter Elizabeth and her bold idea of Environmental History Now: a group of cutting edge early-career scholars with a diversity of identities, backgrounds, and perspectives. I was honored to contribute to the inaugural week of EHN with a reflection on the problems of a prospective academic career. Such a personal essay left me feeling vulnerable. Thanks to the fantastic space Elizabeth fostered, it was met with widespread support and a feeling of community. Throughout its young life, EHN has represented a meeting ground where the bounds of environmental history are constantly being both contested and expanded, a place to reflect on research content and real-world careers, on practicalities and praxis. As a new content editor at EHN, I am excited to continue that work creating a thriving ecosystem of environmental history. I seek to support a community of scholars whose strength lies in their diversity and whose scholarship works to ensure that our history is as colorful and complicated as our present.”

Natascha Otoya

“I formulated my first environmental history question long before I had heard of the field. I was in my early twenties and had dropped out of college, when I got the most exotic job: as a language instructor in an offshore oil rig. In the year I spent working there, I haphazardly collected information about the drilling operations. I learned it placed radioactive material and explosives into the underwater wells, that the noise of the drilling disoriented whales and was potentially connected to infertility in dolphin populations, that sea life living near oil operations suffered mutations. And, of course, that millions of gallons of fossil material were being sucked out of the bowels of the sea, where it had laid for eons before we touched it. The length humans go to get oil just seemed beyond anything reasonable, it was clearly an utter dependence on oil. And I asked myself again and again: how did we get to this?

More than a decade has passed since. I went back to school and got a BA in History. I did a Masters in the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, where I found an amazing academic community in environmental history at the LabHeN. I am now in my fourth year of the PhD program in History at Georgetown University, having the opportunity to work with world class scholars in the field. Environmental history framed my research about oil, how the industry began, how it impacted people on the ground, how it changed landscapes wherever it went. I still find myself asking the same question: how did we get to this? And it’s been great to see so many other historians and researchers also asking similar questions. Being part of the EHN team will be a great way to connect to researchers who are also thinking historically about the environment. I hope together we can all spread the word about the significance of the environmental history field broadly construed, and how our past actions are ever present all around us.”

Asmae Ourkiya

“I’m delighted to be part of the EHN team! I was already a follower on Twitter but when Elizabeth reached out to me about possibly contributing to the project, it felt great to be seen and noticed—especially as a non-binary queer person of colour whose writings about ecofeminism can bring an added value to the platform. After securing an MA degree in Green Cultural Studies, I’m currently completing the final year in my PhD program writing a thesis on ecofeminism. I came across environmental history for the first time while doing research on the scarcity of resources for a project on political ecology. Immediately, I was amazed by the scope of the field and its importance when it comes to studying the interactions between humans and the environment. As an intersectional ecofeminist, I linked the field to my major research area: queer ecofeminism. The impacts of those interactions are not equal to all humans, and involve several factors including gender, sexualiy, race, and socio-economic backgrounds. Discovering EHN made me feel like I can have a voice to write about matters I care about, publish analyses about theoretical postulations that have not been considered before, and be part of a larger community that shares some of my interests. Now, as a content editor, I am proud to have been chosen to help this community prosper!”

Evelyn Ramiel

“I am driven by both curiosity and a desire to find compassionate ways of thinking and conversing, so I want to work with the rest of the team to make EHN an even better place for mental growth and healing. As I’m currently in the early stages of writing a dissertation on Japanese character merchandise, I want to help writers who have unconventional interests thrive within a joyfully undisciplined field. Further, my experience with public history and independent zine publishing drives me to bring readers clear and polished prose. I’ve contributed to EHN a couple of times already and I’m proud of what this little corner of academia has become: really a site that understands that research and writing are not just about flat truth or argumentation but about ethos and feeling. Because as I like to say, writing history is about narrating both the stories we research and our own lives at the same time.”

Diana Valencia

“After several years working as a project manager, I found a passion for scientific curiosity and the territorial heritage of my parents and grandparents in the landscape and peasant culture of my country, Colombia. I rejoined the academic world to study sustainable agriculture and food security, and then challenged myself to undertake a PhD studying the historical transformation of the agricultural landscape linked to peasant food systems in specific regions in Colombia. The field of environmental history has been the perfect methodological tool for the development of my thesis, providing flexibility, diversity of sources, decoloniality, socio-environmental approach and above all interdisciplinarity. For me, all fundamental to making the case for peasant livelihoods in the face of an asymmetrical and unfair resolution of the agrarian question in these regions over recent history. In this formative wayfinding from the plurality of disciplines and historical sources, EHN has provided me with an invaluable space for reflection and communication around my research practice, and consequently, for professional growth and continuous improvement. I am thrilled and honoured by this opportunity to help strengthen the project, and to ‘connect the dots’ that raise the analysis and practice of environmental history.”

*Cover image credit: Jon Tyson on Unsplash.

[Cover image description: Street-level poster advertising on a street light, reading GOOD NEWS IS COMING.]