Laura J. Martin

2020 Hellman Fellow

Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Faculty Affiliate in History
Williams College

Project Title: The History and Politics of Ecological Restoration

Project Description: Laura Martin will use her Hellman Fellowship to support her research costs while she is in residency at the Stanford Humanities Center at Stanford University during the 2020-2021 academic year. While on leave she will complete her first book project, tentatively titled “Saving Species: The History and Politics of Ecological Restoration.” This book project is an outgrowth of Laura’s ongoing research on the ecological restoration movement. Ecological restoration is a subfield of ecology and environmental studies that gained importance during the 20th century, and in the 21st century has become crucial to global responses to both rapidly changing climates and environments. “Saving Species” analyzes ecological restoration’s transformation from an obscure hobby to an international undertaking and explores the movement’s history as an idea, a practice, and a scientific discipline in the US from 1910 to the present. “Saving Species” asks: How does the history of restoration map onto the history of scientific ecology? When and why were protected areas reframed as areas for the restoration of biodiversity? What can the history of ecological restoration tell us about how Americans relate to their national past? Through analyzing diverse archives, “Saving Species” reveals surprising historical connections among amateur naturalists, professional ecologists, The Nature Conservancy, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US Atomic Energy Commission.

Laura’s residency at Stanford will connect her with new colleagues and expose her to emerging research in environmental studies that will inform both her research and teaching. She will also workshop chapters of “Saving Species” and seek feedback on the manuscript from her new colleagues as she prepares it for publication.

Laura hopes to submit the manuscript of “Saving Species” to Harvard University Press for peer review by winter 2020.