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About

I am a historian of American environmental history with a focus on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I hold a BA (Hons) and MA in History from the University of British Columbia, and an MPhil and PhD from Columbia University. My dissertation, provisionally entitled “America's Acclimatization Exchange,” analyzes animal “acclimatization” – the intentional introduction of non-indigenous species – in America from the late nineteenth century through to the mid-twentieth. This massive bioengineering movement permanently added several new species – carp, pheasants, quails, sparrows, starlings – and millions of individual creatures to American landscapes. In studying it, I argue that historians have failed to appreciate the magnitude of animal acclimatization, as well as the civilizational, nation-building terms in which Americans understood it. I think they, and the general public, have also missed the extent to which the US government embraced acclimatization as a long-term strategy to feed the ravenous hunting lobby and fur industry.

What is more, my dissertation modifies the usual understanding of two of the most famous events in environmental history: the American conservation movement and the notorious “Columbian Exchange” of animals, plants, and diseases from Europe to the Americas. Although it is counter-intuitive, enthusiasm for the acclimatization of new species coexisted with efforts to conserve indigenous American landscapes and species—in fact, many acclimatizers fashioned themselves conservationists too. Moreover, the well-known Atlantic World “Columbian Exchange” in the wake of European contact and early settlement is only part of the story. A nineteenth and twentieth century “American acclimatization exchange”—much of it circulating in the Pacific World, not the Atlantic—must be accounted for to understand truly America’s biotic relationship with the rest of the world.

Beyond my doctoral work, I maintain an avid interest in the history of the life sciences, the history of the conservation and animal rights movements - inside and outside of America - and American political history.

I welcome inquiries about my work. I can be reached at barrieblatchford@gmail.com

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Education

2024 

PhD in American History

Columbia University

(Defense Passed: Oct. 2023

Degree Formally Awarded: February 2024)

2020

Master of Philosophy

Columbia University

2017

Master of Arts (History)

University of British Columbia

2015

Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

University of British Columbia

Awards, Fellowships and Grants
(Selected)

My dissertation research has been generously funded by several institutions that I would like to explicitly thank for their crucial support of young researchers. Thank you to the Smithsonian Institution, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Hagley Museum and Library, the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, the American Philosophical Society, the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, and Columbia University. I would also like to gratefully acknowledge the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Tina and Morris Wagner Foundation Fellowship during my MA.

Awards

2022 - Fishel-Calhoun Prize.

Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

2015 - J. H. Stewart Reid Medal and Prize in Honours History.

University of British Columbia

Fellowships

2022 - Research Fellow. Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

2022 - Predoctoral Residential Research Fellow.

Smithsonian Institution.

2022 - Eugene Garfield Fellowship.

American Philosophical Society.

2022 - Residential Research Fellowship.

Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library.

 

2017-2022 - Richard Hofstadter Fellowship.

Columbia University.

 

2017-2021 - Doctoral Fellowship.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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