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Environment in Asia Lecture Series featuring Ruth Mostern – The Yellow River: A Natural and Unnatural History

October 13, 2021 @ 4:00 pm 5:30 pm



Speaker: Ruth Mostern, University of Pittsburgh

This talk showcases Ruth Mostern’s new book: The Yellow River: A Natural and Unnatural History (Yale University Press, 2021).  The Yellow River explains how environmentally transformative human activity has shaped the whole watershed and constituted the relationship between people and the river since Neolithic times.  The book demonstrates that the history of the relationship between people and the river is a history of soil as much as it is a history of water, and that some of the most important episodes in Yellow River history transpired on the semi-arid lands of the Loess Plateau, far from the riverbed itself. Using GIS and data analysis as well as close readings of historical sources, the book reveals that although  the Yellow River floodplain was sometimes a site of frequent and devastating disasters, this was only the case at times of certain decisions about public policy and infrastructure design.

Ruth Mostern is Associate Professor of History and Director of the World History Center at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of Dividing the Realm in Order to Govern: The Spatial Organization of the Song State (960-1276 CE) (Harvard Asia Center, 2011) and the co-editor of Placing Names: Enriching and Integrating Gazetteers (Indiana University Press, 2016). Her current book, Following the Tracks of Yu: The Imperial and Ecological Worlds of the Yellow River is in contract at Yale University Press. She is currently PI on two NEH grants: one to develop content and infrastructure for an ecosystem of digital historical gazetteers, and one to design and launch an interdisciplinary curriculum about water in Central Asia.

Check back soon for more information!

Presented via Zoom Webinar


October 13, 2021
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
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