Not Just Green, Not Just White


Not Just Green, Not Just White

Race, Justice, and Environmental History

Edited by Mary E. Mendoza and Traci Brynne Voyles
Foreword by Patty Limerick

496 pages
22 photographs, 7 illustrations, 4 maps, index


February 2025


$99.00 Pre-order

February 2025


$35.00 Pre-order

About the Book

Not Just Green, Not Just White brings together a group of diverse contributors to explore the rich intersections between race and environment. Together these contributors demonstrate that the field of environmental history, with its core questions and critical engagement with the nonhuman world, provides a fertile context for understanding racism and ongoing colonialism as power structures in the United States.

Earlier historiography has defined environmental history as the study of the changing relationships between humans and the environment—or nature. This volume aims to redefine the field, arguing that neither humans nor environment are monolithic actors in any given story. Both humans and the environment are diverse, and often the environment causes conflict between and among peoples, leaving unequal access and power in its wake. Just as important, these histories often reveal how, despite unequal power, those who carry less privilege still persist.

Together these essays demonstrate the promise of the field of environmental history and reveal how, when practitioners in the field decide to move away from “green” and “white” topics, they will be able to explain much more about our collective past than anyone ever imagined.


Author Bio

Mary E. Mendoza is an assistant professor of history and Latino/a studies at Pennsylvania State University. She is the author of several journal articles and book chapters about the intersections of race, environment, health, and disability. Traci Brynne Voyles is a professor and department head of history at North Carolina State University. She is the author of The Settler Sea: California’s Salton Sea and the Consequences of Colonialism (Nebraska, 2021) and Wastelanding: Legacies of Uranium Mining in Navajo Country. Patty Limerick is a professor of history at the University of Colorado and the author of Desert Passages, The Legacy of Conquest, and Something in the Soil.


“This volume has the potential to transform environmental history. It reveals the limitations of the field and develops a theoretical framework—white settler supremacy—to explain how environmental historians can move questions of race and justice to the center of their work. With an impressive cast of scholars, Not Just Green, Not Just White ranges widely across time and space and brims with original insight. It is a brilliantly conceived, remarkably perceptive collection that will inspire new stories about the environmental past.”—Finis Dunaway, author of Defending the Arctic Refuge: A Photographer, an Indigenous Nation, and a Fight for Environmental Justice

“As a field, environmental history has long had a problem with being too narrow, specifically too white. Instead, this volume gives us different kinds of environmentalism that interpret diverse histories and relationships with the natural world. It provocatively connects racial hierarchies and the settler-colonial past and present to historical relationships between humans and nature.”—Joshua L. Reid, author of The Sea Is My Country: The Maritime World of the Makahs

Table of Contents

Introduction: Environmental History and White Settler Supremacy
Traci Brynne Voyles and Mary E. Mendoza
Section I: Not Just Green: Environmental Histories of Bodies, Trash, Prisons, and Cities
Chapter 1: Bodily Constitutions: Race and Fantasies of Climatic Determinism in Colonial Georgia
Katherine Johnston
Chapter 2: Dirty Work Reconsidered: On the Historical Dynamics of Labor, Waste, and Race in Industrial Society
Carl A. Zimring
Chapter 3: “Death on the City Pavements”: The Chicago School of Sociology’s Ecological Interpretation of Race, Migration, and Inequality
Elizabeth Grennan Browning
Chapter 4: “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”: Knowing Nature through Leisure in Chicago’s Black Metropolis
Colin Fisher
Chapter 5: States of Confinement and Ecological Violence: Incarceration and the Struggle for Environmental Justice
David Naguib Pellow
Section II: Almost Green, But Not Quite: New Perspectives on the Environmental History of Parks and other Green(ish) Places
Chapter 6: Agrarian Reform, Water Use, and the Farm Workers of the Westlands
Mario Sifuentez
Chapter 7: Camp Chicano: Mexican American, the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Making of the Great Outdoors
Stevie Ruiz
Chapter 8: Islands of Freedom: The Struggle to Desegregate Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountain National Park, 1936-1941
Teona Williams
Chapter 9: Conserving Whiteness: The Crisis of Tenancy and New Deal Rural Rehabilitation in the Cotton South
Kathryn Taylor Morse
Chapter 10: Harvest of Self-Help: Southeast Asian Refugee Community Gardens in the 1980s
Cecilia Tsu
Section III: Not Just White: Diverse Environmentalisms & Environmental Narratives in Historical Perspective
Chapter 11: Amputated from the Land: Black Refugees from America and the Deep Racialized Roots of the Environmentalism-Environmental Justice Divide
Bryon Williams
Chapter 12: Glen Canyon Dam, Rainbow Bridge, and Hole-in-the Rock: Diversifying Environmentalisms and the Struggle over “Sacred” Landmarks in the American West
Erika Bsumek
Chapter 13: “How Would You Feel If Someone Were Allowed to Kill One of Your Grandparents?”: Native Hawaiian Opposition to the Shark Fin Trade, c. 1980-2010
Miles A. Powell
Chapter 14: Radical Presence: African American Struggles over the Meaning of “Green”
Carolyn Finney
Section IV: Decolonizing Justice: Indigenous Environmentalisms and Struggles over Meaning, Power, and Privilege
Chapter 15: Turnerian, Si! Americano NO! Migration and the Unmaking of American Whiteness
Mary E. Mendoza
Chapter 16: Pushed Into the Margins: Native Women and Environment in Settler California
Traci Brynne Voyles
Chapter 17: The Skull Valley Nuclear Waste Storage Controversy: Settler Colonialism, Environmental Racism, and Internal Divisions in Goshute Country
Curtis Foxley
Chapter 18: Rifles versus Songs: Idle No More Lives On
Kent Blansett
Chapter 19: Seeing the Trees: The Fight for Cultural Sovereignty along the Banks of Sand Creek
Ari Kelman
Conclusion: Transforming the Field, Transforming the Future
Traci Brynne Voyles and Mary E. Mendoza

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