Anya Zilberstein completed her PhD in history and anthropology of science and technology at MIT in 2008. She is an assistant professor of history at Concordia University in Montreal, where she teaches classes in environmental history, early North America, and the history of science and empire. At the RCC, she is mainly working on a book combining these subjects, titled A Temperate Empire: Climate Change and Settler Colonialism in Early North America. Zilberstein’s book is a transatlantic environmental and cultural history of climate and colonization in Nova Scotia and New England in the seventeenth through early nineteenth centuries. It examines how scientific and British imperial ideas about the regional climate—especially its relatively long, cold winters—were reshaped by settlement, agricultural development, and commercial expansion. Among other topics, it explores the natural history of the northern hemisphere, Enlightenment ideas about temperate and extreme weather, and debates about anthropogenic climate change, especially schemes for “improving” or “tempering” regional environments and the people inhabiting them.
While in Munich, she is also pursuing a project on prison gardens, especially in the work of Count Rumford (Benjamin Thompson), who designed the city’s English Garden in the late eighteenth century.