Looking back, my fascination with museums has clearly played out in my doctoral research on emerging relationships between humans and nonhumans under ecological emergency. Unsurprisingly, the natural history museum is one of the most fraught sites in which these relationships have historically been constructed.
When I worked for a rock climbing gym in Denver, Colorado between college and graduate school, I never asked my van-dwelling coworkers what they thought about living out of their vehicles across a fence from people experiencing homelessness.
To flesh out the labor between humans and animals, I sometimes find myself struggling to write between the “real” and “representational” interactions I experience on farms and see on paper in the archive.
Why do we tell those eerie stories, the ones we share at social events? Ghost stories often reveal more about a community’s concerns at a specific point in time. One such example can be found in suburban Melbourne, Australia.
Now that I’m pursuing a doctoral degree in the highly interdisciplinary field of environmental history, I have come to embrace new research methods.
As I sit in my home in Serampore, India, flanked by the river Hugli and waiting for the already delayed Monsoons to arrive and bring with it some relief, in what has been a record-breaking and extraordinarily hot summer in India, I recognize that writing about water in place-based research is a self-defeating endeavor.
The decimation of the Bengal Tiger, the national animal of both India and Bangladesh, already started in the colonial period through big game hunting, which depleted the numbers of tigers beyond recovery.
This year, I had a somewhat unusual birthday request. During a beach trip with my partner and friends down to Galveston, Texas, I asked that we visit the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum.
Not having documents from the past left my syllabus for an environmental history survey feeling incomplete, both pedagogically and because the strangeness, difficulty, poignancy, and sheer diversity of human experience that historical documents convey was missing.