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Middle East Environmental History: Ideas from an Emerging Field

Sam White


     In the past two decades, world environmental history has taken off as an area of research. Environmental historians have included ever more global and comparative dimensions in their work, and world historians have embraced more environmental perspectives.  Yet until recently, the Middle East was mostly missing from this picture.  Covered by only a handful of studies, the region remained largely unrepresented in the field.  Now in the past few years, the publication of new works promises to establish the region in world environmental history and to inject environmental themes into Middle East studies, from Turkey to the Arabian Peninsula and from North Africa to Iran.  These works draw on a wide range of original evidence over a broad chronological and geographic scope and incorporate an array of new methods and data from diverse fields including anthropology, archaeology, epidemiology, and climatology.

     This article examines the emerging shape of the field and considers some of its implications for world history.  I argue that an environmental approach to the Middle Eastern past presents at least three important ideas for world historians:  First, it emphasizes commonalities and continuities among the various nations, empires, and religions of Middle East history, helping to establish the region as a meaningful unit of study across time and space.  Second, it reveals large-scale patterns in Middle Eastern land use and demography, helping to elucidate long-term trajectories in the region's history without resort to vague tropes of "decline."  Third, recent research into environmental history offers a different regional perspective on modernization, emphasizing factors such as the control of natural resources and public health in Middle East imperialism and state formation.  Whereas traditional historiographies have often singled out the region as a special site of religious or ethnic conflict, these environmental perspectives fit Middle East history into a common human past, opening the way for a stronger integration into world history and hopefully more enlightening historical comparisons with other parts of the world.

Background and Prospects

     In certain respects, scholars of various fields have investigated Middle East environments and societies for some time.  For decades, prehistorians have reconstructed natural and anthropogenic changes in the landscape through sediment and pollen analysis,1 and classical archaeologists have reconstructed elements of population and settlement, agriculture and erosion through excavations and field surveys.2  Anthropologists and historians since Herodotus have also looked at the influence of key geographic features such as the Nile and Mesopotamian river valleys and the unique ecology of the region's pastoral nomads.  Furthermore, starting in the 1970s, historians under the influence of the Annales school began to look more closely into issues of demography, disease, and land use.3

     Nevertheless, only recently has such research come together into an integrated body of study that might be called Middle East environmental history.  In the wider arena of historical geography or environmental history, analysis of the Middle East per se was often neglected4 or edged out by studies encompassing the Mediterranean, usually written by scholars focused on Europe and unfamiliar with Middle Eastern languages.5  Historians trained in modern Arabic, Turkish, or Persian tended to focus on national and political issues in the modern era, while scholars of earlier periods faced considerable obstacles from scarce and difficult source materials. 

     Pioneering works of Middle East environmental history bridged these difficulties through imaginative use of sources, interdisciplinary approaches, and wide chronological or comparative perspectives.  For instance, Richard Bulliet's classic The Camel and the Wheel analyzed the rise of Bedouin power through evolving technologies of camel saddles, using a range of classical and early Arabic material.6  Likewise, Peter Christensen's important study of the rise and fall of irrigation systems in western Persia and Mesopotomia, The Decline of Iranshahr, analyzed patterns over several centuries, drawing on archaeological and literary sources.7  More recently, Stuart Borsch has illustrated the tremendous ecological and economic impact of the Black Death in Egypt through comparison with medieval England;8 and Diana Davis has demonstrated the self-serving nature of French imperial claims about environmental degradation in North African by comparing evidence from pollen samples and ancient geographers with reports in French archives.9

     The current burst of studies on Middle East environmental history has continued this interdisciplinary approach and has also benefited from ongoing archival research, especially in Ottoman imperial records.  The past couple of years have produced, for instance, three new dissertations on epidemics in the Ottoman Empire10 and one on Ottoman forestry,11 with more in progress; new studies on Ottoman famines;12 monographs on the environmental history of Ottoman Egypt13 and the Little Ice Age in the Ottoman Empire;14 and even an edited volume on Ottoman animals.15  As a sign of wider interest in the field, a recent edited volume on world environmental history has been co-edited by a Middle East specialist, Edmund Burke;16 the International Journal of Middle East Studies has published an issue devoted to environmental history;17 and Ohio University Press and Oxford University Press have forthcoming edited volumes on Middle East environmental histories.18  These new studies encompass an ever wider range of viewpoints and issues, some now informed by environmental concerns within the region itself, repeating a pattern seen in other areas of environmental history.  The following sections draw out some of the key themes from this still emerging field of study.

The Unity of Middle East History

     The best works of world environmental history—by embracing long-term, transnational, and interdisciplinary perspectives—have succeeded in peering through the artificial boundaries separating established academic fields.  Such insights could in time make a major contribution to the study of the Middle East and its place in world history as well.  Traditionally, the region's long past has been segmented into generally uncommunicative specialties.  Archaeologists unearthed the ancient world, classicists studied Hellenic through Roman times, Byzantinists constituted their own specialty and Ottomanists yet another, while modern Middle East history has too often been dominated by nationalist perspectives dismissive of the old transnational empires.  Language barriers, a focus on cultural history or ethnic and religious identity, and sometimes an essentialist framework of nations and civilizations have all abetted these divisions.  This fragmentation leaves an impression that different specialists have been studying entirely different peoples and places, with little sense of a shared past.  For world historians, such divisions can obscure the region's deeper continuities and commonalities.  

     From the perspective of environmental history, the outlook could hardly be more different.  While it is true that for reasons of language and evidence individual studies have often focused on just one area or era at a time, the broader picture from the field is one of a shared past.  Perhaps most important has been the way environmental historians analyze populations first and foremost as members a species interacting with its environment, rather than as nations or religions.  Genetically speaking, the population of the Middle East has been largely the same since the spread of agriculture ten millennia ago, little influenced by national differences or foreign invasions.19  Demographically, it fluctuated within roughly the same range from ancient times to the nineteenth century, with surprising consistency in settlement and land use patterns.20  In a critical sense, Byzantines and Ottomans on the one hand, or ancient and modern Egyptians on the other, really are the same people. 

     Moreover, these people have lived in essentially the same landscape.  From classical times to the Enlightenment, Western observers in and of the region have left descriptions of decline or degradation from a supposedly pristine past;21 and some modern environmentalists and environmental historians have viewed the land as a victim of desiccation, deforestation, or overgrazing.22  However, recent studies in climatology, historical geography, and environmental archaeology paint a very different picture.  While the region's climate has not always been stable (see below), it has not fundamentally changed either for at least three millennia.  And rather than proving particularly vulnerable to deforestation or erosion, Middle East flora and fauna turn out to be unusually resilient.  The region's environment is naturally adapted to drought, fire, and browsing and grazing animals, since all of these formed a part of its ecosystem even before humans.  Likewise, the key domesticated crops and livestock, such as wheat, barley, sheep, and goats, which have so transformed other parts of the world, were all native to the Middle East. In this important respect, its environment has actually changed less than almost any other region of intensive human settlement.

     This continuity in crops and animals also reflects some remarkable continuities in land use and lifestyle from the Bronze Age up to the industrial era.  Villages in the plains relied overwhelmingly on the same harvests of winter wheat and barley, and plowed the land with much the same oxen and light wooden scratch plows.  As Peter Christensen has shown, river valley populations over centuries or even millennia maintained very similar irrigation works, and faced the same recurring threats of siltation and soil salination.23  These settlements traded with sheep and goat nomads in the semi-arid uplands and camel and horse nomads in the desert and steppe beyond.24  The tribes, languages, and religions might have changed, but the essential ecology did not.  Domesticated animals long outnumbered people, and in many ways have shaped the region's ecology and history more than humans themselves.  For instance, Richard Bulliet has explored the way cheap and abundant animal power delayed the development of inanimate energy sources and mechanical technologies found in Europe.25

     Such long-term stability in land use illustrates the common and enduring challenge of the region's arid environment, another key unifying factor of Middle East history.  That is not to say the Middle East is simply a desert:  Rather, it is a mosaic of Mediterranean, semi-arid, and arid landscapes with varying human ecologies in close interaction.  In each of these landscapes—from Mediterranean coastal plains, to the inner Anatolian steppe, to the fertile river valleys of Egypt and Iraq, to the Arabian desert—local populations returned to same forms of land use, regardless of ethnicity or religion, guided by the exploitation of plants and animals evolved for such environments.  At the level of states and empires, rulers faced the same challenges of mediating interactions among these populations, particularly settled farmers and pastoral tribes, while directing flows of resources like timber, grain, and livestock among areas of surplus and deficit and managing them for the provisioning of cities and armies.26 


     Another theme to emerge from the environmental history of the Middle East is a recurring pattern of ecological crisis and protracted recovery.  First, the region's aridity has left it especially vulnerable to swings in local and global climate.  As climatologists and historians have discovered, using both historical documents and physical proxies such as speleothems and tree rings, the Middle East has witnessed recurring episodes of extreme and variable climate, often with serious consequences for human populations.27  For instance, archaeologists continue to debate the role of early Holocene climate fluctuations in the Neolithic Revolution and the spread of agriculture;28 and a shift to more arid conditions has been implicated in the rise of the first urban societies in the Nile Valley and Mesopotamia.29  Around 2200BC, a massive drought ushered in Egypt's First Intermediate Period and wiped out agricultural settlements along the upper Euphrates.30  Although the evidence is less clear, unusual climatic conditions may have played a role in crises of the Late Bronze Age (~1100BC),31 the later eastern Roman Empire (~250 AD),32 and especially in mid-sixth-century Byzantium, where volcanic activity may have created anomalous cold and dry fogs that destroyed harvests.33  Global cooling in the fourteenth and late sixteenth to seventeenth centuries associated with the Little Ice Age brought periods of highly variable weather, including extreme winters and alternating floods and droughts.  Volcanic eruptions and Little Ice Age climate patterns have also been linked to strong El Niño patterns and periods of weak Nile floods, which could spell disaster for populations in Egypt.34

     Moreover, climatic fluctuations or periods of political or social turmoil brought recurring disruptions to the balance of human ecologies.  Irregular floods imperiled systems of irrigated agriculture, and periods of extreme variability or aridity pressed back the limits of farming from the semi-arid interior.  At the same time, the push of cold and drought or the pull of abandoned land could draw in nomadic and semi-nomadic pastoralists, whether in gradual migrations or sudden invasions.  This pattern, although sometimes a cliché of ancient sources and medieval writers such as Ibn Khaldun, can be seen for instance in the eleventh-century Seljuk invasion of Iran35 and the seventeenth-century tribal migrations in eastern Ottoman territories36—both driven by periods of intense cold and retreating agriculture.

     Finally, such ecological or political disruptions could drive migrations from the countryside to urban areas, upsetting the balance between food producers and consumers and exacerbating vulnerabilities to epidemic disease.  This pattern, evident in the famine refugee movements that preceded the Plague of Justinian, has been observed throughout the medieval and Ottoman periods as well.  While it was once believed that a medieval Arab "agricultural revolution" supported the great cities of Abbasid and later ages,37 recent authors have questioned this claim.38   Rural to urban migration was often pushed by high taxes and insecurity and pulled by economic opportunities created by imperial spending and long-distance trade, usually coming at the expense of agriculture.  The same migration, commerce, and dense population centers left the region especially susceptible to major epidemics, including plague—perhaps more than any other part of the pre-industrial world.39  Taken together, these vulnerabilities to climate fluctuations, disruptions in agriculture, and microbes offer a novel perspective on the steady eclipse of Middle Eastern power, from the hearth of ancient civilization to a relatively poor and thinly populated region by the dawn of the industrial age.

Environment and Modernization

     Recent work on the region's environmental history also offers a new perspective on the emergence of modern empires and states in the Middle East.  Going back to the early modern period, the rise of the Ottoman Empire in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was built upon complex and far-reaching systems to support agriculture and provision commodities such as grain and timber among the provinces and to the capital city and military.  While advanced for its time, this imperial resource management nonetheless faced significant limits.  Imperial officials still had to negotiate with pastoral tribes and compromise with provincial elites over land and natural resources.  Provisioning systems established during a period of climatic stability and rapid demographic expansion in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, came apart in the 1590s under a combination of population pressure, Little Ice Age weather, and rising military demands.  In the seventeenth-century crisis that followed, population contracted and much imperial authority in the provinces devolved to local notables.40

     As Faruk Tabak examined, this period witnessed a reorientation of the Eastern Mediterranean rural economy to European markets—a transformation underpinned by ecological changes.41  In the wake of these climatic and demographic shifts, Ottoman agriculture moved from a virtual monoculture of grains in the lowlands into more diversified cultivation in the uplands, retreating from encroaching bandit raids, pastoral tribes, and malarial plains.  The arrival of New World crops aided in this agricultural diversification and provided new staples like maize and new cash crops like tobacco, which along with cotton became a major export to Europe.  Over the eighteenth century, these processes worked hand-in-hand with the weakening of Ottoman military strength to draw the Middle East into the emerging Europe-centered world economy as a commodity exporter, long before the age of oil.42

     In the nineteenth century, the emergence of modern empires and states was closely linked to a return to some pre-crisis trends in population and land use along with a resumption of central control over population movements and natural resources, now backed by European ideas and industrial technologies.  This shift began with aggressive public health measures, adopted first by Mehmed Ali's breakaway regime in Egypt in the early 1800s, followed by the Ottoman Empire (and somewhat later Iran).  Recruiting European advisors, the modernizing Egyptian ruler instituted sanitation and quarantine measures, imposing official registration and state controls over the movement of subjects, while drastically reducing disease mortality.43  Ottoman measures of the 1830s—part of the centralizing reforms known as the Tanzimat—would enjoy similar success, in spite of strong popular opposition.44  Likewise, khedival Egypt45 and later the Ottoman imperial government46 undertook more aggressive schemes of nomad control and settlement (followed by Iran in the twentieth century under the Pahlavis).47 

     Such initiatives came as part of broader policies aimed at clarifying and codifying land ownership and promoting agricultural intensification and investment, while enhancing traditional state control of key natural resources, including forests for timber and water for irrigation.48  Along the Nile River in particular, as Timothy Mitchell has explored, state-led development initiatives based on export agriculture and canal projects remained a constant through the colonial and post-colonial periods, with human and environmental costs ranging from malaria to malnutrition.49  Taken together, this framework of imperial and then national control of natural resources and a top-down development-oriented reordering of nature may help contextualize key environmental issues in the contemporary Middle East, including major water and oil projects, which historians have just begun to explore.50

Conclusion: The Nature and History of the Middle East in Perspective

     Beyond its contribution to a regional historiography, Middle East environmental history offers some useful insights for world historians.  It helps define the region as a unit of study and helps illustrate underlying patterns in its development that transcend national differences and the passing of kingdoms and empires.  As in similar studies of Africa, Latin America, or South and East Asia, such perspectives can help clarify the particular path one part of the world has taken without relying on mere cultural exceptionalism.51  This is not to say that environmental history imposes a new geographical determinism:  Yet it underlines the environmental constraints and incentives that have driven Middle Eastern states and peoples throughout history, regardless of religion or ethnicity.  Over centuries, the region's arid, variable climate has presented a recurring challenge to long-term growth and development, while political power has risen and fallen based on control and distribution of key productive lands and natural resources.  This environmental approach helps us to move past the narrow focus on religious and ethnic conflict that often dominates views of the Middle East and to see the region's story as that of a branch of humanity dealing with the common opportunities and limits of a particular patch of nature.  Such a shift should come as a welcome development for world history.

Sam White is assistant professor at Oberlin College, where he teaches courses on world and environmental history. His articles have appeared in the International Journal of Middle East Studies and Environmental History among other publications.  His first monograph, The Climate of Rebellion in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire, on the Little Ice Age crisis in the Middle East, will be out in summer 2011 from Cambridge University Press.  He is currently working on a global history of Little Ice Age weather events, impacts, and reactions during the founding of Jamestown and Quebec, 1607–09.  He can be contacted at


1 For an overview of such research, see e.g., Neil Roberts, The Holocene: An Environmental History (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989) and "Vegetational, Lake-Level, and Climatic History of the Near East and Southwest Asia," in Global Climates since the Last Glacial Maximum, ed. H. Wright (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993).

2 See e.g., John Bintliff, "Time, Process and Catastrophism in the Study of Mediterranean Alluvial History: A Review," World Archaeology 33 (2002): 417–435 and Karl Butzer, "Environmental History in the Mediterranean World: Cross-Disciplinary Investigation of Cause-and-Effect for Degradation and Soil Erosion," Journal of Archaeological Science 32 (2005): 1773–1800.  On the environmental history of the classical Mediterranean, see e.g., J. Donald Hughes, Pan's Travail: Environmental Problems of the Ancient Greeks and Romans (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996) and Robert Sallares, The Ecology of the Ancient Greek World (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991).

3 See Halil İnalcık, "Impact of the Annales School on Ottoman Studies and New Findings," Review 1 (1978): 69–96.

4 The Middle East is not covered, for instance, by the ABC-CLIO series of undergraduate environmental history textbooks "Nature and Human Societies" or in surveys such as John Richards, The Unending Frontier: An Environmental History of the Early Modern World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).

5 Such as Arnold Grove and Oliver Rackham, The Nature of Mediterranean Europe (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001) and Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell, The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000).

6 Richard Bulliet, The Camel and the Wheel (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990).

7 Peter Christensen, The Decline of Iranshahr: Irrigation and Environments in the History of Middle East, 500 B.C. to 1500 A.D. (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 1993).

8 Stuart Borsch, The Black Death in Egypt and England (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005).

9 Diana Davis, Resurrecting the Granary of Rome: Environmental History and French Colonial Expansion in North Africa (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007).

10 Birsen Bulmuş, "The Plague in the Ottoman Empire, 1300–1838" (Ph.D. diss., Georgetown University, 2008); Nukhet Varlık, "Disease and Empire: A History of Plague Epidemics in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (1453–1600)" (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 2008); and Aaron D. Shakow, "Marks of Contagion: Bubonic Plague in the Early-Modern Mediterranean, 1720–1762" (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 2009).  See also Miri Shefer-Mossensohn, Ottoman Medicine: Healing and Medical Institutions, 15001700 (Binghamton: SUNY Press, 2009).

11 Selçuk Dursun, "Forest and the State: History of Forestry and Forest Administration in the Ottoman Empire" (Ph.D. diss., Sabancı University, 2007).

12 Mehmet Erler, Osmanlı Devleti'nde Kuraklık ve Kıtlık Olayları (18001880) (Istanbul: Libra Yayınevi, 2010) and Oya Dağlar, War, Epidemics, and Medicine in the Late Ottoman Empire (19121918) (Haarlem: SOTA, 2008).

13 Alan Mikhail, Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

14 Sam White, The Climate of Rebellion in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

15 Suraiya Faroqhi, ed., Animals and People in the Ottoman Empire (Istanbul: Eren, 2010).

16 E. Burke and K. Pommeranz, eds., The Environment and World History (University of California Press, 2009).

17 International Journal of Middle East Studies 42, issue 4 (2010).

18 Diana Davis and Edmund Burke, eds., Environmental Imaginaries of the Middle East: History, Policy, Power and Practice (Athens: Ohio University Press, forthcoming) and Alan Mikhail, ed., Water on Sand: The Environmental History of the Middle East (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).

19 See e.g., Steve Olson, Mapping Human History (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002), 95, and Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Genes, People, and Languages (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 125 et passim.

20 For an overview (although now a little dated), see J. Malcolm Wagstaff, The Evolution of Middle East Landscapes: An Outline to A.D. 1840 (London: Croom Helm, 1985).

21 On the long-term development of such declensionist ideas, particularly regarding the Mediterranean world, see Clarence Glacken, Traces on the Rhodian Shore: Nature and Culture in Western Thought from Ancient Times to the End of the Eighteenth Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967).

22 For instance, J.V. Thirgood, Man and the Mediterranean Forest: A History of Resource Depletion (New York: Academic Press, 1981).

23 Christensen, op. cit.

24 On varieties of nomads and the history their interaction with sedentary societies, see Anatoly Khazanov, Nomads and the Outside World, 2nd ed. (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994).

25 Bulliet, op. cit.  See also the author's forthcoming contribution in Mikhail, ed., Water on Sand.

26 For more perspectives on continuities and parallels across empires in the region, see Ian Morris and Walter Scheidel, eds., The Dynamics of Ancient Empires: State Power from Assyria to Byzantium (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).   In the introductory essay, Jack Goldstone and John Haldon propose that "the series of empires that has arisen in the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean region represents a series of equilibria, stable formations in which imperial structures have managed to find a balance with the resource production and distribution, the local elite authority, the settlements and networks of social interaction, and the belief systems that characterized varying swathes of this region" (p.26).

27 For an overview of phases in Middle East climate and their impacts, see Arie Issar and Mattanyah Zohar, Climate Change - Environment and History of the Near East (Berlin: Springer, 2007).

28 See Arlene Rosen, Civilizing Climate: Social Responses to Climate Change in the Ancient Near East (Lanham: Alta Mira, 2007).

29 Nick Brooks, "Cultural Responses to Aridity in the Middle Holocene and Increased Social Complexity," Quaternary International 151 (2006): 29–49 and D. Anderson, K. Maasch, and D. Sandweiss, eds., Climate Change and Cultural Dynamics: A Global Perspective on Mid-Holocene Transitions (London: Elsevier, 2007).

30 H. Dalfes, G. Kukla, and H. Weiss, eds., Third Millennium B.C. Climate Change and Old World Collapse (Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1997).

31 Barry Weiss, "The Decline of Late Bronze Age Civilization as a Possible Response to Climatic Change," Climatic Change 4 (1982): 173–198 and J. Neumann, "Climatic Changes in Europe and the Near East in the Second Millenium BC," Climatic Change 23 (1993): 231–45.

32 I. Orland, "Climate Deterioration in the Eastern Mediterranean as Revealed by Ion Microprobe Analysis of a Speleothem that Grew from 2.2 to 0.9 ka Soreq Cave, Israel," Quaternary Research 71 (2009): 27–35.

33 See Joel Gunn, ed., The Years without Summer: Tracing A.D. 536 and its Aftermath (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2000).  For descriptions of natural disasters and famines, see Dionysios Stathakopoulos, Famine and Pestilence in the Late Roman and Early Byzantine Empire (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004).

34 See White, Climate of Rebellion, chapter 5.

35 Richard Bulliet, Cotton, Climate, and Camels in Early Islamic Iran: A Moment in World History (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009).

36 White, Climate of Rebellion, chapter 9.

37 Andrew M. Watson, Agricultural Innovation in the Early Islamic World: The Diffusion of Crops and Farming Techniques, 7001100 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983).

38 Michael Decker, "Plants and Progress: Rethinking the Islamic Agricultural Revolution," Journal of World History 20 (2009): 187–206.

39 For accounts of Middle East epidemics, see Michael Dols, The Black Death in the Middle East (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977); Michael Dols, "The Second Plague Pandemic and its Recurrences in the Middle East," Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 22 (1979): 162–89; and Daniel Panzac, La peste dans l'Empire ottoman, 17001850 (Leuven: Peeters, 1985). 

40 See White, Climate of Rebellion.

41 Faruk Tabak, The Waning of the Mediterranean, 15501870 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008).

42 The Ottoman Empire features prominently in Immanuel Wallerstein's world-systems theory, which in turn has had a strong influence on Ottoman studies.  See Murat Çizakça, "Incorporation of the Middle East into the European World-Economy," Review 8 (1985): 353–77; Huri İslamoğlu, ed., The Ottoman Empire and the World-Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987); and Reşat Kasaba, The Ottoman Empire and the World Economy (Albany: SUNY Press, 1988).

43 LaVerne Kuhnke, Lives at Risk: Public Health in Nineteenth-Century Egypt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990).

44 See Daniel Panzac, Pest dans l'Empire ottoman and Gülden Sarıyıldız, "Karantina Meclisi'nin Kuruluşu ve Faaliyetleri," Belleten 28 (1994): 329–376.

45 Reuven Aharoni, The Pasha's Bedouin: Tribes and State in the Egypt of Mehmet Ali, 18051848 (London: Routledge, 2007).

46 Reşat Kasaba, A Moveable Empire: Ottoman Nomads, Migrants, and Refugees (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2009).

47 Arash Khazeni, Tribes and Empire on the Margins of Nineteenth-Century Iran (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2010).

48 See e.g., Kenneth Cuno, The Pasha's Peasants: Land, Society, and Economy in Lower Egypt, 17401858 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992).

49 Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, and Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002).  See also William Beinart and Lotte Hughes, Environment and Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), chapter 8, comparing Egyptian and Indian irrigation.

50 See Toby Craig Jones, Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2010), and also Beinart and Hughes, Environment and Empire, chapter 15, on early oil extraction in Kuwait.

51 For examples from these other regions, see James McCann, Green Land, Brown Land, Black Land: An Environmental History of Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999); Shawn William Miller, An Environmental History of Latin America (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007); Madhav Gadgil and Ramachandra Guha, This Fissured Land: An Ecological History of India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1992); and Mark Elvin, The Retreat of the Elephants: An Environmental History of China (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004).


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