The Department of International History hosted Dr Megan Black’s book launch on Tuesday 19th March. Dr Black, Assistant Professor in the International History Department, was joined by Dr Kasia Paprocki (Department of Geography and Environment, LSE) and Professor Andrew Preston (Clare College, University of Cambridge.)
The public lecture discussed Dr Black’s new book, Global Interior: Mineral Frontiers and American Power, which explores the workings of the US Department of the Interior both domestically and abroad. Dr Black convincingly argues that the Department of the Interior, a government organ best known for managing domestic natural resources and operational national parks, was actually fundamental to US global expansion and the promotion of American imperialism. The Department of the Interior consistently pursued strategic minerals across American borders.
It was able to do this so successfully, both in the US with the expropriation of indigenous land and abroad with mineral deposits, due to the perception that nature is neutral, thus non-political. As Dr Paprocki added, the process of how the environment and frontiers were imagined, for example through the discourse of wasteland, validated the dispossession of these lands. It is clear through Dr Black’s text that the ability to extract resources is inextricably linked to the political sovereignty of a country. This sometimes had the support of local elites, as in the Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos, whilst in other areas it was resisted.
Dr Black’s analysis of the Department of the Interior additionally enables us to see empire in a different form through challenging its conventional portrayal as something overt. Professor Preston commented that Black’s work also challenges many dichotomies that have been portrayed in the existing literature, including the foreign and the domestic, conservation and exploitation, and the political and the private. He continued by stating that the Global Interior is a strong contribution to this field by highlighting the significant role of institutions and their ability to evolve, which have so far been ignored.
This event is not available as a podcast.
The Department of International History (@lsehistory) teaches and conducts research on the international history of Britain, Europe and the world from the early modern era up to the present day.
View images of the event in our Facebook page.
Photo credit: "The U.S. Interior Department building in Washington, D.C., Sept. 10, 2008",