Mike Davis: planetarity and environmentalisms the invention of new environmental histories from...

Susanna B. HECHT

Mike Davis transformed the understanding of southern California and dramatically reshaped thinking about the region in his books and many articles for New Left Review. Less well known locally is his significant impact of the approaches to urban environmental history and the large-scale effects of climate events at a global level. Davis can be seen as foundational for global environmental history in his methodology: analyzing the teleconnections and impacts of a particular climate event, (in Victorian Holocausts this was an El Nino) and then parsing out the social effects. The sever El Nino he describes was key in the disenfranchisement of millions in the Colonial worlds and the creation of new indentured and sub-proletariat populations that became the labor force for new forms of plantation agriculture, infrastructure labor, and rubber extraction in tropical forests. Davis’ work provided early historical analysis on the impacts of colonial capitalism in the creation of climate vulnerability. Both his creativity in urban environmental history and its imaginaries, and the foundational research on global climate history are extraordinary contributions.