Visiting Assistant Professor of History, The University of Kansas
What are you working on?
I am working on a history of the 1980s Farm Crisis, focusing on the economic and environmental effects of the wave of bankruptcies and foreclosures that accompanied the constriction of credit in the Midwest and on the Great Plains. This agro-environmental history builds upon the work I did for my first book, Managing the Mountains: Land Use Planning, the New Deal, and the Creation of a Federal Landscape in Appalachia (Yale, 2010), as well as on the research that went into a forthcoming anthology, American Georgics: Writings on Farming, Society, and the Land (forthcoming, Spring 2011).
What does membership in the AHS provide you?
The Agricultural History Society has proven to be a congenial, engaged community of scholars who are committed to explaining the importance of agriculture to the larger history of the world. Especially in the first years of my career, this was a minority opinion within academia, and so the Society represented a place where conversations about food, nature, and agricultural production were both welcome and encouraged. Now, the rest of society seems to have caught up with us!
What do you think is the next hot topic in agricultural history?
I see that the growing trend toward agro-environmental history represents the next frontier in agricultural history, as witnessed by the several recent books on this topic as well as the excellent work being done by both graduate students and established scholars.
What's your favorite historical work on agriculture or rural life?
My favorite historical work on agriculture is probably Bill Cronon's Nature's Metropolis, which inspired me to question the interconnections between agricultural production and larger market forces, as well as regional change.