Locusts of Power: Borders, Empire, and Environment in the Modern Middle East

Locust of PowerLecture: “Locusts of Power: Borders, Empire, and Environment in the Modern Middle East”

Thursday, March 30,  from 5:30 – 7:00 PM

Pauli Murray (aka Hamilton) Hall 569

UNC – Chapel Hill

In this original environmental history, Samuel Dolbee sheds new light on borders and state formation by following locusts and revealing how they shaped both the environment and people’s imaginations from the late Ottoman Empire to the Second World War. Drawing on a wide range of archival research in multiple languages, Dolbee details environmental, political, and spatial transformations in the region’s history by tracing the movements of locusts and their intimate relationship to people in motion, including Arab and Kurdish nomads, Armenian deportees, and Assyrian refugees, as well as states of the region. With locusts and moving people at center stage, surprising continuities and ruptures appear in the Jazira, the borderlands of today’s Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Transcending approaches focused on the collapse of the Ottoman Empire or the creation of nation states, Dolbee provides a new perspective on the modern Middle East grounded in environmental change, state violence, and popular resistance.

Samuel Dolbee is an environmental historian of the Ottoman Empire and the modern Middle East at Vanderbilt University, with interests in agriculture, disease, and science. He teaches courses in the Department of History and as part of the Climate Studies major. Dolbee’s scholarship has appeared in the American Historical Review, Past & Present, and International Journal of Middle East Studies. He has also contributed chapters to edited volumes on the history of food and disease, respectively. He is the editor in chief of Ottoman History Podcast.

Prior to teaching at Vanderbilt, Dolbee was a lecturer on History & Literature at Harvard. He previously held postdoctoral fellowships at Yale’s Program in Agrarian Studies, Harvard’s Mahindra Humanities Center, and Brandeis University’s Crown Center for Middle East Studies. Dolbee completed his PhD at New York University in the joint program in History and Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies, and has an MA in Arab Studies from Georgetown University and a BA in History and International Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While at Carolina, he was in the Honors Program and was a Leadership Fellow.

Sponsored by the UNC First Year Seminar Program, the Honors Program, the History Department, and the North Carolina Consortium for Middle East Studies.