Late June 2020 was an extraordinary time to be reading Animal City. COVID-19, a zoonotic disease, had already killed around 130,000 people in the United States, with urban areas suffering the highest death rates. In New York City alone, 30,000 people had died.
Danger, disaster and the loss of life are emblematic features of Britain’s cultural memory of coal mining. Netflix’s hit series, The Crown, prominently reinforced these motifs through its recent portrayal of the 1966 Aberfan disaster in South Wales.
The indefinite article in the subtitle of Pekka Hämäläinen’s new book tells, to those familiar with the author’s first monograph and its professional impact, its own story. Ethnohistorians writing Native North American history in the later 20th century cast Indigenous Americans as heroic underdogs in a long, bitter struggle against Euro-American colonialism.