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both pedagogically and because the strangeness, difficulty, poignancy, and sheer diversity of human experience that historical documents convey was missing.
As long as I gain some sort of enjoyment from learning about the environment’s impact on history, should that be enough to consider myself an environmental historian? I believe so. It will just have to include dogs.