About this collection

Carajas, Brazil. The cattle sector of the Brazilian Amazon, incentivized by the international beef and leather trades, has been responsible for about 70 percent of all deforestation in the region, or about 14 percent of the world’s total annual deforestation, making it the world’s largest single driver of deforestation.

The history of environmental change is entangled with the history of technology and technoscientific expertise. Technical instruments to assess and manage environments have been critical in human evolution ever since we have inhabited Earth. The rise of Earth System and Sustainability Sciences in scientific and policy circles, as well as the expansion of concepts across academic fields such as Planetary Boundaries, the Great Acceleration, and the Anthropocene, all reflect a dual role of technology in global ecological change. Technology has been fundamental in accelerating socio-ecological change across regions and ecosystems, and, at the same time, it has also been fundamental in developing the instruments we use to apprehend the scale, sources, and impacts of those changes.

Environmental historians and scholars of science and technology have cultivated a growing interest in how their respective disciplines can contribute to the understanding of this dual role. As part of these discussions, “Envirotech” has arisen as a new field at the intersection of the history of technology, science and technology studies, and environmental history. Addressing various aspects of the entangled nature of technology and environmental degradation, the field has expanded in academic circles, particularly in the North Atlantic and in English-speaking countries.  At the same time, the concept of Envirotech has also served tech companies to describe a variety of environmental testing and monitoring instruments, energy efficiency technologies, and other “green” or “clean” technologies aimed to respond to the complex ecological crises of the twenty-first century. Unlike accounts focused on technology-induced environmental destruction, the rise of Envirotech in business and corporate narratives embraces a profound faith in the role that technology has in leading the way to a more sustainable future. Many of these narratives have become part of policy circles—including energy and agricultural transitions, smart cities infrastructure, and AI in environmental assessments and policy. These divergent roles of technology across the academic, industry, and policy sectors leave unresolved questions about the place of technical instruments and knowledge in facing challenges at the intersection of sustainability and development.

This collection explores the place of technology and technical expertise in human-nature interactions and in how we manage, govern, and apprehend environmental change across time and space. It calls for a more explicit dialogue about how technologies and expertise have shaped these interactions within and beyond scientific and technological centers in the so-called Global North. It questions universalizing narratives about the place of technology and technology experts and invites conversations that address issues of colonialism, race, and inequality across the developed and the developing world. It calls attention to how technologies and expertise, as well as their role and impacts, differ across cultures, political systems, and regions. Finally, it urges questions about the multiple ontologies, epistemologies, and agencies that have shaped assemblages across and between species, technologies, and ecosystems. We particularly welcome contributions that address these relationships in a particular place and time, but also contribute insights into broader processes of change.

Some of the topics that this collection welcomes, but is not restricted to, include:

Engineering, infrastructure, and development projects • Green technologies and the circular economy • Energy and agricultural transitions • Smart cities • Space explorations and orbital debris • Marine sciences and biotechnology • Weather and climate geoengineering • Geology and fracking • Race, risk, and environmental justice • Quantifications and metrics • Information technologies and telecommunications • Waste recycling, disposal, and management • Extractive economies • Growth, degrowth and sustainable development policy •  Biomedicine and public health technologies • Indigenous knowledge, innovation, and environmental management • Non-western science and knowledge • Molecular biotechnologies and techniques • Environmental sensing and monitoring technologies • Econometric modeling of ecological systems •  Big science and big data •  AI, computing, and modeling techniques • Smart home technologies • Speculative techniques in environmental design and innovation • Infrastructure, architecture, and urban planning • Environmental management and ecosystem services • Natural resource economics • Wildlife monitoring and management • Environmental movements and environmentalism • Environmental assessments, agreements, and governance.

The collection is curated by William San Martín (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, USA).

Information on how to contribute.

53 results
“The battle of geological experts”: Water Flow and Tunneling within a Welsh Mountain
Nuttall, Mark Arcadia, Spring 2021, no. 14
The Enemy is Nature: Military Machines and Technological Bricolage in Britain’s “Great Agricultural Experiment”
Mahony, Martin Arcadia, Spring 2021, no. 11
Humans and Other Pollinators in the Oil Palm Plantation Complex
Robins, Jonathan Arcadia, Spring 2021, no. 8
Rat Tech: Transforming Rodents into Technology in Tanzania
Lee, Jia Hui Arcadia, Spring 2021, no. 5
Views from Above: Light Airplanes and Wildlife Research and Management in the Serengeti during the 1950s and 1960s
Schleper, Simone Arcadia, Autumn 2020, no. 42
Stars, Mules, and Interferometers in Early Transnational Astronomy in 1960s Chile
Silva, Barbara K. Arcadia, Autumn 2020, no. 40
The Empire, the Naturalist, and the Countryside: Biological Science in Colonial Hong Kong
Chu, Leo Arcadia, Summer 2020, no. 35
Kernkraftwerk Gösgen: In the Towering Presence of Nuclear Power
Siegrist, Hannah, Siegrist, Nathan Arcadia, Summer 2020, no. 26
How a Fishway from Norway Reached the Weser River in Germany (1905–1912)
Zumbrägel, Christian Arcadia, Summer 2020, no. 23
The Origins of Ecocide: Revisiting the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the Vietnam War
McElwee, Pamela Arcadia, Spring 2020, no. 20
Histories of Central Himalayan Herbs: Vanaspati Karyalaya in Tehri Princely State c. 1879–1950
Nath, Nivedita Arcadia, Spring 2020, no. 13
Imagining a New Eden in the Nuclear West
Fite, Chris Arcadia, Spring 2020, no. 9
Seed Oysters in Entangled Worlds: Ecological Disturbances, Knowledge Making, and Potentialities in Miyagi, Japan
Yoshida, Mariko Arcadia, Autumn 2019, no. 47
Facing Changes, Changing Targets: Sperm-Whale Hunting in Late Eighteenth-Century Brazil
Vieira, Nina, Hayes, Patrick, Matthews, Al Arcadia, Autumn 2019, no. 44
“The Tornado Was Not the A-Bomb’s Child”: The Politics of Extreme Weather in the Age of Atmospheric Nuclear Weapons Testing
McBrien, Justin Arcadia, Autumn 2019, no. 40
“Yanqui Cotton Patch”: US Development Aid and Pesticide Use in Nicaragua
Francis, Hilary Arcadia, Autumn 2019, no. 39
Botanizing in the Borderlands
Thurner, Lance C. Arcadia, Autumn 2019, no. 33
Electronic Waste in Guiyu: A City under Change?
Mujezinovic, Davor Arcadia, Summer 2019, no. 29
Small Farmers, Their Association, and the Transformation of the Australian Sugar Industry
Vidonja Balanzategui, Bianka Arcadia, Summer 2019, no. 26
Biodiversity Offsetting and the Contradictions of the Capitalist Production of Nature
Apostolopoulou, Elia Arcadia, Summer 2019, no. 21
The Water Shops of Republican Tianjin
Cao, Mu Arcadia, Summer 2019, no. 20
How the Arctic Became White: Victorian Explorers and the Erasure of Botany in the Canadian Arctic
Gismondi, Chris Arcadia, Spring 2019, no. 16
What Living in Space Teaches Us about Living on Earth
Munns, David Arcadia, Spring 2019, no. 14
Environmental Sustainability and Technological Change: The Slurry-Tanks Conflict in Galician Agriculture (1999–2019)
Esperante Paramos, Bruno Arcadia, Spring 2019, no. 12
Searching for Stability: Energy, Entropy, and the Abandoning of the Panatomic Canal
Coulombe, Jordan Arcadia, Spring 2019, no. 9
The Niagara Telecolorimeter
Macfarlane, Daniel Arcadia, Autumn 2018, no. 28
Fishing for Souls: Water Technology and the Dutch Baroque
FitzGerald, Lisa Arcadia, Autumn 2018, no. 26
Internationalism in the Heart of Africa? The Albert National Park / Virunga National Park
De Bont, Raf Arcadia, Summer 2018, no. 16
Dike 14, Cleveland, Ohio: Containing Pollution in the Age of Ecology
Stradling, David Arcadia, Summer 2018, no. 15
The Lost Lakes of Bangalore
Nagendra, Harini, Unnikrishnan, Hita Arcadia, Spring 2018, no. 13
John Anthony Allan’s “Virtual Water”: Natural Resources Management in the Wake of Neoliberalism
Stack Whitney, Kaitlin, Whitney, Kristoffer Arcadia, Spring 2018, no. 11
From Pulley to Pipe: The Decline of the Wells of Bangalore
Nagendra, Harini, Unnikrishnan, Hita Arcadia, Spring 2018, no. 5
Friedrich Haberlandt’s Failed Vision: Soy in European Food Cultures, 1873–1945
Langthaler, Ernst Arcadia, Spring 2018, no. 3
The Ecology of Yellow Fever in Antebellum New Orleans: Sugar, Water Control, and Urban Development
Willoughby, Urmi Engineer Arcadia, Spring 2018, no. 1
Creating Safety, Courting Disaster on the Lower Shinano River, Japan
Brown, Philip C. Arcadia, Autumn 2017, no. 26
An Unnatural History of Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, Colorado
Alexis-Martin, Becky, Malin, Stephanie Arcadia, Summer 2017, no. 25
Chemical Rubble: Historicizing Toxic Waste in a Former Mining Town in Northern Chile
Ureta, Sebastián Arcadia, Autumn 2016, no. 20
“It Was a Blast!”—Camp Life on Christmas Island, 1956–1958
Alexis-Martin, Becky Arcadia, Autumn 2016, no. 19
Bombs and Biodiversity: A Case Study of Military Environmentalism in Australia
Wilkie, Benjamin Arcadia, Autumn 2016, no. 15
Brewing, Industrialization, and London Water Supplies
Unger, Richard Arcadia, Summer 2016, no. 9
Carbon Bomb: Indonesia’s Failed Mega Rice Project
Goldstein, Jenny Arcadia, Spring 2016, no. 6
Onions and Tires in Sodom and Gomorrah
Schwab, Oliver Arcadia, Autumn 2015, no. 21
Nuclear Ghosts and the Atomic Landscape of the American South
Peyton, Caroline Arcadia, Autumn 2015, no. 19
An Endless Sediment Story: The First Five Decades of the Canal de Marseille
Maughan, Nicolas Arcadia, Autumn 2015, no. 18
Lions, Lords, and Automobiles: Animal Entertainment and Travel Technologies in the Late Twentieth Century
Flack, Andy Arcadia 2015, no. 17
The Serre-Ponçon Dam and the Durance River: The Founding Act towards the most Regulated French Waterway
Maughan, Nicolas Arcadia 2015, no. 16
Molluscan Explosion: The Dutch Shipworm Epidemic of the 1730s
Sundberg, Adam Arcadia 2015, no. 14
The Watering of California's Central Valley
Grant, Daniel Arcadia 2015, no. 1
Cosmopolitan Trout: The 1883 Fisheries Exhibition and the Global Expansion of Fish Culture
Del Vecchio, Michael Arcadia 2013, no. 21
Karabash: The City of Pollution
Semenenko, Anna Arcadia 2013, no. 14
The Nuclear Disaster of Kyshtym 1957 and the Politics of the Cold War
Rabl, Thomas Arcadia 2012, no. 20
Atlantropa – Endless Energy from the Mediterranean Sea
Mauch, Felix Arcadia 2012, no. 9
Expecting Disaster: The 1963 Landslide of the Vajont Dam
Hardenberg, Wilko Graf von Arcadia 2011, no. 8