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Dawn Biehler
University of Maryland, Baltimore County (Baltimore, MD 21250-0001)
A Social and Environmental History of Pest Control in 20th-Century America

This book tells the story of American pests and pesticides from the perspective of urban residents in the twentieth century. It challenges humanities scholars and broader audiences to consider the boundaries between 'nature' and 'culture' in cities by probing the ways humans interact with the environment to bring unintended consequences upon our living spaces and bodies. The book traces the history of ideas among experts and layfolk about the home's relationship with nature and health. Holistic thinking about the home environment has long confronted pervasive martial metaphors that supported fragmented approaches to pest control. The book shows that for many urban residents, pests provoked not war but struggles for environmental justice and health. This account contributes to scholarship in the humanities by revealing the lived meanings, practices and politics of a quite mundane experience: sharing one's home with an undesired aspect of nature, domestic pests.

Project fields:
U.S. History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2010 – 9/30/2010