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Locusts of Power: Borders, Empire, and Environment in the Modern Middle East

Locusts of Power: Borders, Empire, and Environment in the Modern Middle EastBook cover

Book talk by Professor Samuel Dolbee of Vanderbilt University, organized by the Richard Hovannisian Chair of Modern Armenian History at UCLA, the Armenian Genocide Research Program of the Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA and the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies (CNES). This event will take place at UCLA Bunche Hall, Room 10383 on Monday, October 2, 2023 at 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM (Pacific Time). Click here to register


In this original environmental history, Samuel Dolbee sheds new light on borders and state formation by following locusts and revealing how they shaped both the environment and people's imaginations from the late Ottoman Empire to the Second World War. Drawing on a wide range of archival research in multiple languages, Dolbee details environmental, political, and spatial transformations in the region's history by tracing the movements of locusts and their intimate relationship to people in motion, including Arab and Kurdish nomads, Armenian deportees, and Assyrian refugees, as well as states of the region. With locusts and moving people at center stage, surprising continuities and ruptures appear in the Jazira, the borderlands of today's Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Transcending approaches focused on the collapse of the Ottoman Empire or the creation of nation states, Dolbee provides a new perspective on the modern Middle East grounded in environmental change, state violence, and popular resistance.


Samuel Dolbee is an environmental historian of the late Ottoman Empire and the modern Middle East. He is currently Assistant Professor of History and D Family Dean’s Faculty Fellow in Studies of the Middle East at Vanderbilt University. His articles have appeared in American Historical Review, Past & Present, and International Journal of Middle East Studies. His book Locusts of Power was published in May 2023 with Cambridge University Press. He completed his PhD in History and Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies at New York University and his MA in Arab Studies at Georgetown University. He is the editor-in-chief of the Ottoman History Podcast. 

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Published: Tuesday, September 12, 2023