“Hollow Ground: Industry, Ecology, and Climate Change in the Floodplains of Early Maryland”
My research links histories of natural resource extraction and cultural ecology in Maryland’s Patapsco River Valley, or “The Hollow” as it was called by its first European settlers. Beginning in the seventeenth century, settlers seized Indigenous land to build large-scale agricultural projects and industrial factories. These endeavors drastically altered the valley’s environment. I examine the entwined consequences of environmental capitalism and settler colonialism through a site-specific, microhistorical lens, studying how various spaces of production in the valley—iron furnaces, grist and cotton mills, farms, schools, local governments, and family units —experienced extraction. I follow this history through the catastrophic flood of 1868, an event precipitated by aggressive damming and deforestation. I also interrogate contemporary historical memory of the valley, and the ways that its industrial ruins have been repurposed into state recreational sites.