Transplanting Modernity?

New Histories of Poverty, Development, and Environment

Transplanting Modernity brings a unique focus on intersections between the history of environmental transformation and the history of international development programs, focusing on a wide array of regions and themes. It is sophisticatedly argued and brilliantly researched and breaks new ground in evaluating the histories of development—often articulated as projects of transplanting modernity—through the lens of environmental history.
Debjani Bhattacharyya, Universität Zürich

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In general, “development” denotes movement or growth toward something better in the future. International development—widespread in the decades following World War II—was an effort at purposeful changein landscapes around the world. Contributors to this volume argue that these projects constituted an effort to transplant modernity, such as knowledge or technology, from places seen as more developed to places perceived as un- or underdeveloped. During its heyday, international development included not just dams, roads, health programs, and agricultural projects but also animal husbandry schemes, urban development, and wildlife protection plans. Projects often succeeded or failed because of existing environmental conditions, and in turn, these programs remade—or tried to remake—the land, water, wildlife, and people around them. From American-directed failures in water engineering in Afghanistan to the impact of livestock epidemics on economic growth in East Africa, the chapters in Transplanting Modernity question how science, technology, and faith in Western notions of progress have influenced the pace, scope, and scale of development.

about the editors

Thomas B. Robertson

Thomas B. Robertson is a historian and independent scholar living in Maryland. His interests include malaria, land reform, conservation, and South Asia.

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Thomas B. Robertson
Jenny Leigh Smith

Jenny Leigh Smith is a historian and independent scholar currently residing in western New York. Her research interests include agriculture, food security, humanitarian logistics, and the environmental impact of development.

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Jenny Leigh Smith