Historical Geography


Our research encompasses a broad spectrum of interests, both thematic and regional. Generally, there is particular enthusiasm for work that combines theoretical and empirical scholarship, seeking to reveal the general through close scrutiny of the particular, and for work that speaks to issues of broad current environmental concern.

At present, research in historical geography focuses on three broad areas: (i) Environmental history: Current research analyzes problems of resource use and depletion, environmental conflicts in the Canadian west, large-scale river development, the environmental consequences of military mobilization during the Second World War, the environmental history of Canada and Alaska. (ii) Historical geographies of migration: Research in progress focuses on the peopling of British North America and New Zealand, and the social and environmental effects of settlement. (iii) Historical geographies of modernity: Work is currently under way on colonial modernities and the ‘colonial present’, on military occupations of Arab cities in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and on cultures of travel in Egypt from 1798 through 1914.

At the M.A. level many students work on British Columbia (because the archives are at hand) – though recent work has included the American South, New Zealand, the American Pacific Northwest, Victorian Britain and West Africa. Ph.D. theses range much more widely. Recent and current student research foci include Vancouver, British Columbia; transnational water issues in western North America; wetland drainage in Manitoba; agriculture and environmental change in South Africa; the war on grasshoppers and wild horses in the BC interior; and the historical geographies of representation in Canada.

Faculty working on Historical Geography

Associate Vice-President Research and Innovation

My research lies in environmental history and water history and focuses on the history and politics of large rivers, particularly in Canada. Recent work focuses on the environmental history of hydro-electricity during the Second World War and the politics of pure water in Vancouver.

Professor Emeritus

Research interests focus on European settlement in early Canada and on geographies of colonialism in early British Columbia.

Professor Emeritus

My research interests focus on pre-Hispanic wetland agriculture; cultural-historical geography of Mesoamerican tropical lowlands; and the recent impact of agricultural globalization.

Professor Emeritus
Principal UBC Emeritus College

I am a student of environmental history and historical geography, with research interests in Canada and (to a lesser extent) New Zealand. Forestry, agriculture and sustainability have been my main interests but I have also written on cities, migration, parks and geographical practice.