New Earth Histories Research Program

New Earth Histories brings the history of geosciences and the history of select world cosmologies together. Our aim is to produce a fresh and cosmopolitan history of environmental sciences, analysing the significance of geological time and multiple cosmologies for global modernity itself.


Professor Alison Bashford, FBA, FAHA, FRHistS

Alison Bashford is Director of the New Earth Histories Research Program. Her research connects the history of science, global history, and environmental history into new assessments of the modern world, from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries.

She has recently moved to UNSW from Cambridge, where she was Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History.

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Program Manager

Dr Jarrod Hore

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Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Emily Kern
T: @kern_em

Emily Kern is a historian of modern global science who specialises in the history of human evolution and paleoanthropology. She is currently at work on a book about the long history of the African origins hypothesis and the search for the cradle of humankind. Her research focuses on the relationship between the production of scientific knowledge about the human species and the production of global political power in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (B.A. 2012) and Princeton University (Ph.D. 2018). At Princeton, she was awarded a Charlotte Elizabeth Procter Honorific Fellowship (2017-2018) and held a Graduate Prize Fellowship from the University Center for Human Values (2016-2017).

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Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Adam Bobbette

Adam Bobbette is a geographer with training in philosophy, cultural studies, architecture and landscape. His research relates to the intersections of people with vulnerable and volatile environments. Following a PhD from Cambridge, he is working on a book, “At Earth’s Edge: The Political Geology of Indonesia”, that focuses on the intersection of politics and geology through the lens of Indonesia’s volcanoes.


Distinguished Visitors

Professor Pratik Chakrabarti, FRHistS 
University of Manchester

Pratik Chakrabarti is Chair in History of Science and Medicine at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester. Pratik holds a PhD from the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and has held numerous positions in India and the United Kingdom since 2000. Pratik’s contributed widely to the history of science, medicine, and global and imperial history, spanning South Asian, Caribbean and Atlantic history from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. He has published four sole-authored monographs and several research articles in leading international journals on the history of science and medicine. 

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Professor Nigel Clark 
University of Lancaster

Nigel Clark is Professor of Human Geography at the Lancaster Environment Centre, University of Lancaster. Nigel’s scholarship engages themes at the heart of the environmental humanities such as the relationship between humans and nature, the social studies of science and technology, more-than-human ethnography and extinction studies. He has contributed widely to debates around the human consequences of the emerging geological epoch of the Anthropocene. Nigel’s work has been published in top journals within the fields of the environmental humanities and human geography and is recognised for its cutting-edge, creative and agenda setting qualities. 

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Professor Naomi Oreskes
Harvard University

Naomi Oreskes is Professor of the History of History and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. A world-renowned geologist, historian and public speaker, she is a leading voice on the role of science in society and the reality of anthropogenic climate change. Naomi is the author of 7 books and over 150 articles, essays and opinion pieces, including Merchants of Doubt (Bloomsbury, 2010), The Collapse of Western Civilization (Columbia University Press, 2014), Discerning Experts (University of Chicago Press, 2019), and Why Trust Science? (Princeton University Press, 2019). Naomi's numerous awards and prizes include the 2019 Geological Society of America Mary C. Rabbit Award, the 2019 British Academy Medal, the 2016 Stephen Schneider Award for outstanding Climate Science Communication, the 2015 Herbert Feis Prize of the American Historical Association for her contributions to public history, and the 2014 American Geophysical Union Presidential Citation for Science and Society. She is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. 

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Shaping the New World

World-leading historian Alison Bashford has always been interested in how the past shapes our present.
Read more on shaping the new world.


Coastal Waters & Terraqueous Histories of the Pacific

April 11, 2019: Alison Bashford’s Terraqueous Histories frames analysis of the Pacific at American Society for Environmental History conference.

Coastal Waters and Terraqueous Histories of the Pacific

Panel at the American Society for Environmental History, Columbus, Ohio.

  • Jakobina Arch: Whitman College
  • Daniel Margolies: Virginia Wesleyan University
  • Jason Michael Colby: University of Victoria
  • Mary X. Mitchell: Purdue University
  • Alison Bashford: University of New South Wales

Alison Bashford, ‘Deep Genetics: Universal History and the Species’, History and Theory, 57, no. 2 (2018): 313-22.  

Alison Bashford (ed.), 'Oceanic Histories,' (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017). Co-editor with David Armitage and Sujit Sivasundaram.

Alison Bashford, ‘Terraqueous Histories,’ The Historical Journal, 60, no. 1 (2017): 1–20.

Adam Bobbette and Amy Donovan, eds. 'Political Geology: Active Stratigraphies and the Making of Life,' Palgrave/Macmillan, 2018.

New Earth Histories Conference

Date: Sydney, 4-6 December, 2019
Location: Level 6/1 O'Connell St, Sydney NSW 2000
Convenors: Alison Bashford, Adam Bobbette, Emily Kern

This conference aims to produce a fresh and cosmopolitan history of environmental and Earth sciences, analysing the significance of geological time and multiple cosmologies for global modernity. One of the most fascinating elements in a conventional history of geology is its intricate connection to theology; to complex eighteenth and nineteenth-century doctrinal debate on the age of the Earth, its relation to the universal deluge and to Biblical time. Yet the world was never just Christian. New Earth Histories proceeds from that plain fact. The conference proposes to analyse an extensive suite of other ways of knowing modern Earth history: Chinese, South and Southeast Asian, Pacific , Islamic and Indigenous conceptions of the globe, and of Earth’s origins, transformations and make up. We seek to analyse the encounters between these traditions, bringing the history of geosciences and the history of world cosmologies together.

For more information, contact us or follow our Twitter. Further detailed information, including a draft program and accommodation recommendations, will be available in the next few months.

View the Program (PDF)

New Earth Histories Research Program

Morven Brown Building, Rms 243-247

University of New South Wales