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Seth Garfield, Director GAR 1.104, Mailcode B7000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-3261

David Kinkela, Former IHS Fellow, Wins Prestigious Book Award

Posted: November 30, 2012
Professor David Kinkela

Professor David Kinkela

Professor David Kinkela, a former Fellow at the Institute for Historical Studies and Associate Professor of History at SUNY Fredonia, has been honored with the 2012 Forum for the History of Science in America book prize at the History of Science Society for his book, DDT and the American Century: Global Health, Environmental Politics, and the Pesticide that Changed the World (UNC Press, 2011). Professor Kinkela received his PhD from New York University in 2005 and his research interests focus on the history of U.S. environmental politics in a global age.

Chronicling the use of DDT around the world from 1941 to the present, DDT and the American Century examines the interconnections between U.S. environmentalism and U.S. foreign policy.  DDT has had an ambivalent history: praised for its ability to kill insects efficiently but reviled as an ecological hazard.  Professor Kinkela’s book focuses on the role of the Unite States in encouraging the worldwide use of the pesticide, especially after the ban on DDT in the US in 1972.  While the ban was heralded as a triumph for the American environmental movement, DDT’s function as a tool of U.S. foreign policy and its use in international development projects designed to solve problems of disease and famine made it an integral component of the so-called American Century. The varying ways in which scientists, philanthropic foundations, corporations, national governments, and transnational institutions assessed and adjudicated the balance of risks and benefits of DDT within and beyond America's borders, Kinkela argues, demonstrates the gap that existed between global and U.S. perspectives on DDT.  DDT and the American Century offers a unique approach to understanding modern environmentalism in a global context.

The Forum for the History of Science in America (FHSA) is a formally acknowledged ‘interest group’ within the History of Science of Society that works to promote research and education on the history of science in the Americas and fosters historiographical and methodological excellence among historians, scientists, and those who might contribute to the understanding of science in America.  FHSA presents an annual award recognizing outstanding contributions to the history of American science.

The History of Science prize committee commented that Professor Kinkela’s book was “among the finest, most well-written, pieces of historical scholarship that any of us has encountered in recent years...We were all taken by the fluidity with which Kinkela masterfully integrates insights drawn from different threads of historical analysis, [such as] environmental history, the history of science, the history of technology, the history of medicine, and diplomatic history.”

Professor Kinkela made the most of his time at the IHS.  Besides his own book, he also took part in that’s year’s conference about “The Nation State and the Transnational Environment” and he became the co-editor with UT’s own Erika Bsumek and Mark Lawrence of an anthology of essays that were first written for that conference to appear shortly as The Nation-State and the Global Environment: New Approaches to International Environmental History (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2013).  Professor Kinkela reflected on his time at IHS, saying: "The Institute for Historical Studies at The University of Texas at Austin was invaluable to my work. The fellowship not only offered me the time and resources necessary to complete my book, but more importantly, it connected me to a wonderful and supportive community of scholars. I am indebted to everyone at the IHS; they all contributed to this award."

The Institute for Historical Studies is delighted to celebrate the national recognition given by this book prize to the excellent work produced with our support.

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