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Hurricanes, Ocean Currents, and Eels: Animating the Global Environmental Histories of the British North Atlantic

Thu, April 11, 1:30 to 3:00pm, Hyatt Regency Columbus, Marion


The historical geographer, Don Meinig, once described the North Atlantic as “a human network of points and passages,” where the sites of “connection” brought together four continents, a variety of peoples, and diverse environments into a global “circuit.” Rather than viewing this region as “a physical stage for the historical drama,” or “a set of facts about the areas of the earth,” Meinig’s maritime North Atlantic was an assemblage of water, winds, “localities and regions, networks and circulations,” which allowed him to examine “large and complex matters” such as imperialism, which he viewed as a geopolitical force that shaped the global North Atlantic. By drawing on maritime sources, I build on Meinig’s work by focusing on three sites in the British North Atlantic (Barbados, Bermuda, Lake Nipissing) with the agencies of three mobile natures (hurricanes, Gulf Stream, American eel) to think about the broader themes of empire across space and time when animating the global maritime histories of the British North Atlantic in the nineteenth century.