Thomas Lekan (PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1999) is a professor at the University of South Carolina with a joint appointment in the Department of History and the School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment. His books, essays, and reviews explore European, East African, and international environmental histories, the development of systems ecology, and critical approaches to sustainable development. He is the author of Imagining the Nation in Nature: Landscape Preservation and German Identity, 1885-1945 (Harvard University Press, 2004), co-editor with Thomas Zeller of Germany's Nature: Cultural Landscapes and Environmental History (Rutgers University Press, 2005), and co-editor with Robert Emmett of the RCC Perspectives anthology Whose Anthropocene? Revisiting Dipesh Chakrabarty’s Four Theses of Climate History. His second monograph Our Gigantic Zoo: A German Quest to Save the Serengeti, was published this year. Thomas’s work also explores the intersection of environmental history and the public humanities by examining how scientific and policy processes of “baselining” nature frame the interpretation and management of protected areas and local landscapes. In this vein, he served with Jessica Elfenbein as the Co-Principal Investigator for a Historic Resource Study of Congaree National Park in Hopkins, SC and on student-led landscape documentation projects for the South Carolina State Parks system. He has also co-edited (with Sebastián Ureta and Wilko von Hardenberg) a special section of articles for the journal Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space called Baselining Nature: Explorations of Futures-Past in Environmental Science and Policy
Arusha 1961: The Making of the “Global Environment” in an East African Town
Film Interview with Thomas Lekan
Our Gigantic Zoo: A German Quest to Save the Serengeti. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.
Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space (forthcoming, 2020) (special sectionBaselining Nature: Explorations of Futures-Past in Environmental Science and Policy).
A Natural History of Modernity: Bernhard Grzimek and the Globalization of Environmental Kulturkritik.” New German Critique 43, no. 2 (August 2016): 55-82 (special issueThe Challenge of Ecology to the Humanities: Posthumanism or Humanism?).
Whose Anthropocene? Revisiting Dipesh Chakrabarty’s ‘Four Theses.’”RCC Perspectives: Transformations in Environment and Society, no. 2 (2016).
Fractal Eaarth: Visualizing the Global Environment in the Anthropocene.”Environmental Humanities 5 (2014): 171-201.
Region, Scenery, and Power: Cultural Landscapes in Environmental History.” In The Oxford Handbook of Environmental History, edited by Andrew Isenberg, 332-365. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.