New Books: January - February 2021
Information: A History
Edited by Ann Blair, Paul Duguid, Anja-Silvia Goeing, and Anthony Grafton
A landmark history that traces the creation, management, and sharing of information through six centuries
Thanks to modern technological advances, we now enjoy seemingly unlimited access to information. Yet how did information become so central to our everyday lives, and how did its processing and storage make our data-driven era possible? This volume is the first to consider these questions in comprehensive detail, tracing the global emergence of information practices, technologies, and more, from the premodern era to the present. With entries spanning archivists to algorithms and scribes to surveilling, this is the ultimate reference on how information has shaped and been shaped by societies. Read more about Information: A History.
Impagination – Layout and Materiality of Writing and Publication
Edited by Ku-ming (Kevin) Chang, Anthony Grafton, and Glenn Warren Most
This volume is the first comparative history that studies the practice of impagination across different ages and civilizations. By impagination we mean the act of placing and arranging spatially textual and other information onto a material bearer that could be made of a variety of materials (papyrus, bamboo slips, palm leaf, parchment, paper, and the computer screen). This volume investigates three levels of impagination: what is the page or other unit of the material bearer, what is written or printed on it, and how is writing or print placed on it. It also examines the interrelations of two or all three of these levels. Read more about Impagination.
Scorched Earth: Environmental Warfare as a Crime against Humanity and Nature
By Emmanuel Kreike
A global history of environmental warfare and the case for why it should be a crime
The environmental infrastructure that sustains human societies has been a target and instrument of war for centuries, resulting in famine and disease, displaced populations, and the devastation of people’s livelihoods and ways of life. Scorched Earth traces the history of scorched earth, military inundations, and armies living off the land from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, arguing that the resulting deliberate destruction of the environment—"environcide”—constitutes total war and is a crime against humanity and nature. Read more about Scorched Earth.
Risk on the Table: Food Production, Health, and the Environment
Edited by Angela N. H. Creager and Jean-Paul Gaudillière
Over the last century, the industrialization of agriculture and processing technologies have made food abundant and relatively inexpensive for much of the world’s population. Simultaneously, pesticides, nitrates, and other technological innovations intended to improve the food supply’s productivity and safety have generated new, often poorly understood risks for consumers and the environment. From the proliferation of synthetic additives to the threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the chapters in Risk on the Table zero in on key historical cases in North America and Europe that illuminate the history of food safety, highlighting the powerful tensions that exists among scientific understandings of risk, policymakers’ decisions, and cultural notions of “pure” food. Read more about Risk on the Table.
Remaking Central Europe: The League of Nations and the Former Habsburg Lands
Edited by Peter Becker and Natasha Wheatley
Over the last two decades, the "new international order" of 1919 has grown into an expansive new area of research across multiple disciplines. With the League of Nations at its heart, the interwar settlement's innovations in international organizations, international law, and many other areas shaped the world we know today. This book presents the first study of the relationship between this new international order and the new regional order in Central and Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Habsburg empire. Read more about Remaking Central Europe.