Nature's Laboratory: Environmental Thought and Labor Radicalism in Chicago, 1886?1937
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Imprint: John Hopkins University
Sales Date: 2022-10-18
Published: October 2022
Imprint: John Hopkins University
Page Count: 280 Pages
Illustrations: 10 b&w photos, 10 b&w illus.
Dimensions: 6.20 x 9.10
280 Pages, 6.20 x 9.10 x 1.00 in, 10 b&w photos, 10 b&w illus.
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Chicago, she argues, became the taproot of two intellectual strands of American environmentalism, both emerging in the late nineteenth century: first, the conservation movement and the discipline of ecology; and second, the sociological and anthropological study of human societies as "natural" communities where human behavior was shaped in part by environmental conditions. Integrating environmental, labor, and intellectual history, Nature's Laboratory turns to the workplace to explore the surprising ways in which the natural environment and ideas about nature made their way into factories and offices?places that appeared the most removed from the natural world within the modernizing city.
As industrialization, urbanization, and immigration transformed Chicago into a microcosm of the nation's transition to modern, industrial capitalism, environmental thought became a protean tool that everyone from anarchists and industrial workers to social scientists and business managers looked to in order to stake their claims within the democratic capitalist order. Across political and class divides, Chicagoans puzzled over what relationship the city should have with nature in order to advance as a modern nation. Browning shows how historical understandings of the complex interconnections between human nature and the natural world both reinforced and empowered resistance against the stratification of social and political power in the city.
Introduction. "A Stupendous Piece of Blasphemy Against Nature"
Part I: Nature's Laboratory of Anarchism and Capitalism
Chapter 1. "Pantries of Mother-Earth": Haymarket and the Environmental Thought of Chicago's Anarchists
Chapter 2. "Return Continually to Nature": Architecture and Urban Planning
Part II: Nature's Laboratory of Pragmatism and Progressivism
Chapter 3. "Experience is of as Well as in Nature": John Dewey's Laboratory School and Environmental Aesthetics
Chapter 4. "Pliable Human Nature": Hull-House Environmental Imaginaries of Labor and Health in the Progressive Era
Part III: Nature's Laboratory of Technocratic Social Control
Chapter 5. "The City is Remaking Human Nature": Human Ecology and Race Relations at the Chicago School of Sociology
Chapter 6. "Failure to Come into Relation With His Environment": The Hawthorne Experiments and the Human Relations Movement
Conclusion. "Material for a New Creation": Naturalizing Labor Relations from the New Deal to Neoliberalism
"Nature's Laboratory promises to resurrect the intellectual debates about nature that swirled through Chicago in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Social and economic strife sparked these conversations, and debaters turned to the environment for answers to the problems caused by the city. Using an impressive array of sources, from sociological and workplace studies to poetry and architectural design, Browning argues that thinkers returned again and again to the concept of urban nature. This book will appeal to intellectual, environmental, and urban historians, as well as historians of capitalism and Chicagophiles."?Jon T. Coleman, University of Notre Dame, author of Here Lies Hugh Glass: A Mountain Man, a Bear, and the Rise of the American Nation
"Well-researched, incisively argued, and beautifully written, Browning delivers a dazzling and pathbreaking synthesis of environmental, urban, intellectual, and labor histories that sheds new light on familiar figures and stories?not just in Chicago, 'nature's metropolis,' but in the nation as a whole."?Brian McCammack, author of Landscapes of Hope: Nature and the Great Migration in Chicago
"In a move that turns Cronon's Nature's Metropolis inside out, Browning deftly demonstrates that Chicago's labor and intellectual histories are best read through the environment. From Haymarket through the Memorial Day Massacre, Chicago's reformers, intellectuals, and activists turned to the natural world for authority and for consolation, variably understanding and experiencing nature as a source of knowledge, metaphor, and control."?Ellen Stroud, author of Nature Next Door: Cities and Trees in the American Northeast
"In this vivid account of Chicago, Elizabeth Browning illuminates the push-and-pull between city and country, a set of entanglements brought to life through the ideas of charismatic activists, writers, and intellectuals like Lucy Parsons, John Dewey, Jane Addams, and Richard Wright. From the Chicago School of Sociology to the "green" movement, Chicago was at the heart of debates about nature and culture, about the ecology of the urban experience, about a fundamental need to live among others. Browning has given us a major contribution to how we understand Chicago's central place in the fields of environmental, intellectual, and urban history."?Liesl Olson, Director of Chicago Studies, Newberry Library
"Nature's Laboratory offers a sophisticated and nuanced history of the meanings of race and nature in American urban development. Deploying rich research, vibrant prose, and profound?often surprising?analysis, Browning interrogates the intersections of environment, race, labor, and city life in the long twentieth century. This is a vital contribution."?Traci Brynne Voyles, University of Oklahoma
"Beautifully written, Nature's Laboratory represents a tremendous amount of research and includes many evocative vignettes."?Colin Fisher, University of San Diego, author of Urban Green: Nature, Recreation, and the Working Class in Industrial Chicago