Exploring the environmental history of an important natural area
“An engaging narrative of an iconic southern estuary that has sustained humans for millennia. Bennett helps us appreciate how different societies have used and transformed Tampa Bay and its ecological assets, and how scientists, environmental activists, and policymakers have worked in recent decades to reduce the threats posed by industrial dumping and development.”—Christine Keiner, author of The Oyster Question and Deep Cut
“Bennett’s history of the Bay is a warning that weaves together colonial violence against Indigenous communities as well as American settler-colonial racial hierarchies with the destructive control of this environment. It is a book that reveals how deeply interconnected human and environmental histories have been and will continue to be.”—Tori Bush, coeditor of The Gulf South: An Anthology of Environmental Writing
“Bennett uses a voice that sounds like a wizened but learned sailor spinning out the histories of the Bay.”—Gary Kroll, professor of history at SUNY Plattsburgh
The largest open water estuary in Florida, Tampa Bay has been a flashpoint of environmental struggles and action in recent years. This book goes beneath today’s news headlines to explore how people have interacted with nature in the region throughout its long history.
In Tampa Bay, Evan Bennett reveals that humans have been part of the Bay’s ecology since the estuary took its modern form 2,000 years ago, along with the communities of fish, birds, reptiles, and mammals that proliferated in its seagrass meadows, tidal salt flats, and mangrove forests. Bennett discusses the natural resources that drew people to settle there, the trade that encouraged development, and the shipping and industry that increased biological and ecological change.
While the past 150 years have seen serious environmental damage from dredging, water pollution, red tides, and more, Bennett shows how people have been fighting to clean up the Bay and regain a balance with nature. Informed by the latest in marine science, area environmentalists, policymakers, and citizens are working to create a model for other societies that have developed in fragile natural areas.
The first book to examine the environmental history of the region, Tampa Bay uncovers deep-rooted relationships between water, land, and people and offers hope for bringing threatened coastal spaces back from the brink.
Evan P. Bennett is associate professor of history at Florida Atlantic University. He is the author of When Tobacco Was King: Families, Farm Labor, and Federal Policy in the Piedmont.
A volume in the series Florida in Focus, edited by Andrew K. Frank
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