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.