Where Ocean Meets Land: Environmental History and the New England Coast
Christopher Pastore, PhD
Saturday, October 4, 1:30pm
Sea Education Association
James L. Madden Center Lecture Hall
171 Woods Hole Road, Falmouth, MA
Free and open to the public.
About the Lecture
One of the largest estuaries on the North Atlantic coast, Narragansett Bay served as a gateway for colonial expansion in the 17th century and the birthplace of American industrialization in the late 18th. Christopher Pastore explores the environmental history of this watery corner of the Atlantic world, beginning with the first European settlement in 1636 and ending with the dissolution of the Blackstone Canal Company in 1849. Pastore will trace how the Bay’s complex ecology shaped the contours of European habitation, trade, and resource use, and how littoral settlers in turn reconfigured the physical and cultural boundaries between humans and nature.
Today, as sea levels rise and superstorms batter coasts with increasing ferocity, Pastore calls on the environmentally-minded to make a space in their notions of progress for impermanence and uncertainty in the natural world.
About the Lecturer
Christopher L. Pastore is a cultural and social historian of early America with particular interest in the human dimensions of environmental change. His work examines the ways Europeans and Native Americans interacted with contested spaces—those that defied ownership and jurisdiction, that were neither “natural” nor “civilized”—which has steered his research into a decidedly watery world. His work questions the extent the liminal nature of coasts, and estuaries in particular, blur legalities and shape local economies, and how did that in turn lead to environmental change? Pastore works with undergraduate and graduate and students who want to study early America, the Atlantic world, environmental history, andmaritime/oceanic history. He is guest lecturing for SEA Semester’s “Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean” fall study abroad program.