Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2019
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Missiles and Anchovies: An Environmental History of the Cold War in the Black Sea Region, 1945-1995

"Missiles and Anchovies" is an environmental history of the global Cold War, as experienced on one of its crucial fault lines: the Black Sea region. Shared by several of Eurasia's most diverse and powerful states, the region has long been a geopolitical flashpoint, at the center of the Crimean War, WWI, and the Ottoman collapse. The Cold War added another chapter to this fractious history, bisecting the Black Sea into a communist north and a NATO south. My project connects this story to the environmental health of the sea, which by the 1980s was overfished, contaminated, and lousy with invasive species. How did the Cold War structure the possibilities for environmental change in the Black Sea, and what can this transformation teach us about the conflict's broader logics and legacies? While the Cold War is often described as an international order, how did it function as a regional and environmental system? Drawing on research in Russia, Ukraine, the US, and Turkey, the project considers four processes that shaped the Black Sea region, politically and physically: militarization, developmentalism, environmental diplomacy, and environmental degradation. It argues for the interconnection between the diplomatic and military strategies formulated in capital cities, the science produced in universities and in the field, and the (mis)management of natural resources "on the ground". To maintain analytical precision in the face of such multifaceted phenomena, the dissertation introduces readers to strategically chosen, largely unexplored case studies. These include the US-Turkish effort to combat opium production with "green revolution" technologies, a controversial dam spanning the Turkish-Soviet border, and the international scientific program to control the invasive comb jelly Mnemiopsis leidyi. The result is an innovative perspective on the Cold War, and a transregional reflection on many of the 20th century's enduring legacies.