Course description

190 million: according to the World Bank, this is the number of people who lived in a country different from their homeland in 2005. This fact calls for a better understanding of the history of migration and its relation with nature. In this course we will explore the environmental history of mass migrations. We will follow the paths of migrants who came to the New Worlds with their ideas about nature, their ways of using natural resources, and their bodies, that is, with their individual resistance or weakness toward environmental challenges. We will examine the heritage that migrants inscribed in the landscape as well the marks left by nature in their bodies and culture. And we will explore how ethnic/racial segregation and power relationships have produced an urban landscape deeply marked by the social experiences of immigrants.

Final assignment

The students asked to write an entry for the Atlas (called geoarchive) of the CLISEL project. Geo-archive is an open-access tool containing historical cases of interactions between migration and environmental/climatic changes. It encompasses information on the description of the case, policy responses to migration and loss & damage, and reflections of this case in the literary/audio-visual productions. The tool is mainly designed for teaching and outreach purposes as well as for providing locally grounded examples for local authorities and climate/migration policy stakeholders.

The entry should cover a case of environmentally induced migration, it should be more or less 2000 words long (not less than 1500, not more than 2500). It should follow the template that we will provide you. The entry must be discussed with Marco or Roberta. Please, do not write your case without discussing it with us in advance, otherwise, it might be rejected. The students must present their entries to the class with a proper presentation (powerpoint or similar). More instructions will be given during the course.

Here you have two suggestions and attached you find the template and samples 1 and 2 of Atlas entry.

Assignment Evaluation

Students will be evaluated for: their participation in the classes (25%), final assignment (50%),  weekly assignments (25%).


Participation in the classes

Students are supposed to come to all classes having read the readings and done the weekly assignments on time. If someone must miss a class, she or he is supposed to inform the instructors. One absence is fine; two absences will require extra homework. More the two must be negotiated.


Roberta Biasillo roberta.biasillo@abe.kth.se (main instructor and coordinator of the course)

Marco Armiero armiero@kth.se

Erik Isberg erik.isberg@abe.kth.se

Daniele Valisena valisena@kth.se

For the readings:

  1. You can email us and we will provide an electronic version of the readings
  2. You can visit the Environmental Humanities Laboratory and make a copy of the readings, but you must book an appointment with one of the instructors in the team (Teknikringen 74D, level 5)
  3. You can buy the main textbook: M. Armiero and R. Tucker, Environmental History of Modern Migrations (Routledge 2017)


For the assignments:

Please submit them through CANVAS the day before the class.


Schedule Room Themes readings 
16/03 - 13-15 L44 Introduction to the course. What is history, what is the environment  E.H. Carr, What is history? Penguin Books, 1990, pp.7-30. Book available on line at this link. Sverker Sörlin and Paul Warde, Making the Environment Historical – An Introduction, in S. Sörlin, Nature’s End, 1-19.
19/03 - 13-15 L44 How to do environmental history Worster, Donald. "Appendix: doing environmental history." The Ends of the Earth: Perspectives on Modern Environmental History (1988): 289-307.
23/03 - 13-15 L44 Environmental history of modern migration  M. Armiero and R. Tucker, Introduction, migrants in environmental history, in Environmental history of Modern Migrations (2017): 1-16.
26/03 - 13-15 L44 Tools and methods

Rutherford, Stephanie. “A Resounding Success? Howling as a Source of Environmental History.” in Methodological Challenges in Nature-Culture and Environmental History Research. Jocelyn Thorpe, Stephanie Rutherford, and L. Anders Sandberg, eds.
Routledge, 2016: 43-54.

Thorpe, Jocelyn. "It Matters Where You Begin. A (continuing) Journey Towards Decolonizing Research."  in Methodological Challenges in Nature-Culture and Environmental History Research. Jocelyn Thorpe, Stephanie Rutherford, and L. Anders Sandberg, eds. Routledge, 2016: 130-143.

30/03 - 13-15 L44 Mobility in imperial settings

Crosby, Alfred W. "Ecological Imperialism: The Overseas Migration of Western Europeans as a Biological Phenomenon." In The Ends of the Earth: Perspectives on Modern Environmental History, edited by Donald Worster, 103-17. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

WILLIAM BEINART and KAREN MIDDLETON, Plant Transfers in Historical Perspective: A Review Article, Environment and History, Vol. 10, No. 1 (February 2004), pp. 3-29.

02/04 - 13-15 L44 Source Analysis for Environmental Historians Watch the the director's cut of the movie "In the Shadow of Ebola" by environmental historian Gregg Mitman (among others) and explore the website.
06/4 - 13-15 L44 Migration and Climate (Change)

Chris Methmann & Delf Rothe (2014) Tracing the spectre that haunts Europe:
the visual construction of climate-induced migration in the MENA region, Critical Studies on Security, 2:2, 162-179.

Mike Davis, "The Poor Eat Their Homes', in: M. Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts. El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World, Verso, New York, 2002, 61-90.

09/04 - 13-15 L44 Digital humanities projects
16/04 - 15.00-16.30 online COVID-19, climate change and migration The event will be run using Youtube livestreaming platform. Shortly before the event please join using this link: 

20/04 - 13-15 L44 Internal migration in Brazil due to the drought Angus Wright, Environmental degradation as a cause of migration: precautionary tales from Brazil,  n Environmental history of Modern Migrations (2017):159-176
23/04 L44 Italian miners in Belgium

Daniele Valisena and Marco Armiero, Coal Lives: body, work and memory among Italian miners in Wallonia, Belgium, n Environmental history of Modern Migrations (2017): 88-108


27/04 - 13-15 Division of History Individual feedback on the final assignment 

Please book your time slot here: https://doodle.com/poll/rvz885844n3xyz6i

If you could not book a time slot, email biasillo@kth.se

04/05 - 13-15 L44 Individual feedback on the final assignment 

Please book your time slot here: https://doodle.com/poll/rvz885844n3xyz6i

If you could not book a time slot, email biasillo@kth.se



Date Assignment
16/03 No

Worster proposes 3 different approaches to EH. Do you think that there might be others? Which one? What Worster has left

(300 words)


Why do Armiero and Tucker use the example of the Okies to explain their approach to the EHM?

(300 words)

26/03 What implications or consequences might the readings from Rutherford and Thorpe have upon the practice of doing environmental history? (300 words)
30/03 According to Alfred Crosby, what are the four categories of organisms deeply involved in the European Agricultural and Demographic Takeover of the overseas? (300 words)

Choose an aspect of the movie "In the Shadow of Ebola" that seems relevant to you and, based on that aspect, draw a comparison with the current pandemic. 

(300 words)

1) Mike Davis refers to migrants "trading starvation for the deadly epidemics being incubated in fetid relief camps and shanty towns” in explaining drought/famine response. Explain in your words what his words would mean today in a world with multiple streams of migrations and epidemics like Covid-19.
2) In what ways mapping and/or remote sensing technologies shape our understanding and depiction of the climate migrant?

No assignment. Eventually, submit the assignments you have not been able to hand in so far.


After the webinar on "COVID-19, climate change and migration", write a 300 word long commentary on it. 


In which sense this is a precautionary tale? What is the message?

300 words



Which kind of sources do the authors use? What are the pros and cons of those sources?

(300 words)

27/04 and 04/05

Work on the assignments





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