Spencer D. SegallaFeb 4, 2023
Empire and Catastrophe
Decolonization and Environmental Disaster in North Africa and Mediterranean France since 1954
University of Nebraska Press 2021
Spencer Segalla’s Empire and Catastrophe: Decolonization and Environmental Disaster in North Africa and Mediterranean France since 1954 (U Nebraska Press, 2021) explores natural and anthropogenic disasters during the years of decolonization and Cold War. Four disasters make up the core of the book: the 1954 earthquake in Algeria’s Chélif Valley, just weeks before the onset of the Algerian Revolution; a mass poisoning in Morocco in 1959 caused by toxic substances from an American military base; the 1959 Malpasset dam collapse in Fréjus, France, which devastated the Algerian immigrant community in the town but which was blamed on Algerian sabotage; and the 1960 earthquake in Agadir, Morocco, which set off a public relations war between the United States, France, and the Soviet Union, and which ignited a Moroccan national debate over modernity, identity, architecture, and urban planning. Spencer Segalla argues for the integration of environmental events into narratives of political and cultural decolonization. Empire and Catastrophe will interest environmental historians, North Africa area studies specialists, and historians of France and French imperialism. Empire and Catastrophe: Decolonization and Environmental Disaster in North Africa and Mediterranean France since 1954 is available open access online for no charge.
Dr. Segalla, professor of history at the University of Tampa, completed his Ph.D. at Stonybrook in 2003. In addition to Empire and Catastrophe, he has published The Moroccan Soul: French Education, Colonial Ethnology, and Muslim Resistance, 1912-1956 with the University of Nebraska Press in 2009.
Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2018). When he’s not reading or talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.