Andes Research

Latin American Environmental History

Huaraz damage

The damage caused by a 1941 glacial lake outburst flood in Huaraz, Peru.  The city center was previously in the center of this photograph along the Quillcay River.


Houses cling to the Rio Santa in the Peruvian city of Huaraz.  Settlements increasingly move into floodplains along the Santa and its tributaries throughout the Callejón de Huaylas, exposing residents to potential glacial lake outburst floods and glacier avalanches that typically follow river and streambeds downhill — demonstrating how natural disasters are both socially and environmentally produced.

Environmental history in Latin America is a dynamic field drawing an increasing number of scholars from within and beyond Latin America. 

The Sociedad Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Historia Ambiental (SOLCHA) has a growing number of participants doing innovative research on historical human-nature interactions throughout the region.  The next SOLCHA conference will be held in Colombia on June 6-8, 2012.

Carey's research on the Peruvian Andes has contributed many specific case studies of Latin American environmental history, especially on climate history and the history of natural disasters. 

But he has also written several articles about the field more broadly.  His 2009 article published in the journal Environmental History, for example, tries to push scholarship in new directions by drawing on research advances from other disciplines such as geography and anthropology.

Related Publications

Carey, Mark. "Commodities, Colonial Science, and Environmental Change in Latin American History," Radical History Review 107 (Spring 2010): 185-194.

Carey, Mark. "Latin American Environmental History: Current Trends, Interdisciplinary Insights, and Future Directions," Environmental History 14, no. 2 (April 2009): 221-252.

Carey, Mark. "The Nature of Place: Recent Research on Environment and Society in Latin America," Latin American Research Review 42, no. 3 (2007): 251-264.