A Coffee Conversation on Environmental History
David Biggs is the author of Quagmire: Nation-Building and Nature in the Mekong Delta (University of Washington, 2011), which examines the intersections of politics and nature along the waterways of the Mekong Delta from the days of the French colonial conquest in the 1860s to the battles of the Vietnam War in the 1960s and after. Both an environmental and a political history, Biggs argues for a deeper appreciation of the ways ecology figures into such efforts as nation-building and national independence. Often, schemes fall short of their intended social or political goals. This book received the George Perkins Marsh Award in 2012 for the best book in environmental history. Biggs’ current research examines the long-term social and environmental dimensions of military occupation, primarily in Vietnam. This research examines the U.S. military’s development and operation of bases in the 1960s as well as earlier and later periods of military activity, including studies of Vietnamese actions on both sides in this period. His research also addresses environmental and political legacies associated with former base areas, including studies of post-base closure activities in the United States and elsewhere.