University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
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Richard Mizelle, Professor of History, April 2015


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Richard Mizelle is Professor of History at the University of Houston. His research explores the historical borders and overlap between questions of race, environment, technology, and health in modern America. His book Backwater Blues: The 1927 Mississippi River Flood and the African American Imagination (University of Minnesota Press, 2014), offers a critique of long-standing ideas of black environmental complacency by showing the ways in which black commentators from W.E.B. Du Bois to Bessie Smith provided an ecological intellectual criticism of the disaster. He is also co-editor of Resilience and Opportunity: Lessons from the U.S. Gulf Coast after Katrina and Rita (Brookings Institution Press, 2011) and is currently at work on a new project that will examine the long and complex history of race and diabetes from the turn of the 19th century through Hurricane Katrina.

Prof. Mizelle visited the University of Minnesota in April 2015 for the John E. Sawyer Seminar Symposium on “The Once and Future River: Imagining the Mississippi in an Era of Climate Change“. His book Backwater Blues was the subject of a discussion in March 2015 on Environmental Disaster and African-American Experiences.

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