Colten, Craig E. 1952-
Colten, Craig E. 1952-
Born August 16, 1952, in Bogalusa, LA. Education: Syracuse University, Ph.D., 1984.
Academic and geographer. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Carl O. Sauer professor of geography. Also worked for Illinois state government and as a private consultant in Washington, DC.
Media achievement award, Association of American Geographers, 2006; J.B. Jackson Prize, Association of American Geographers, 2006.
Industrial Waste Management Practices, 1890-1950: A Bibliography, Vance Bibliographies (Monticello, IL), 1986.
(With Gerard E. Breen) Historical Industrial Waste Disposal Practices in Winnebago County, Illinois, 1870-1980, Hazardous Waste Research and Information Center (Savoy, IL), 1986.
(With Diane Mulville-Friel) Guidelines and Methods for Conducting Property Transfer Site Histories, (Champaign, IL), 1990.
(With Diane Mulville-Friel and Douglas Moore) Environmental Liability, Property Transfers, and Historical Hazardous Materials: A Bibliography, Vance Bibliographies (Monticello, IL), 1990.
(Editor, with Lary M. Dilsaver) The American Environment: Interpretations of Past Geographies, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 1992.
(With the Illinois State Museum Society) Derelict Properties: Scale and Scope of an Urban Environmental Problem, Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resources (Springfield, IL), 1995.
(With Peter N. Skinner) The Road to Love Canal: Managing Industrial Waste before EPA, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 1996.
(Editor, with Lisa M. Brosseau) Respiratory Protection: A Manual and Guideline, 3rd edition, American Industrial Hygiene Association (Fairfax, VA), 2001.
An Unnatural Metropolis: Wresting New Orleans from Nature, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 2005.
(With others) Southern United States: An Environmental History, ABC-Clio (Santa Barbara, CA), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals and journals, including Journal of Southern History, Environmental History, and Journal of Historical Geography. On editorial board of Environmental History, 2002—. Editor of Geographical Review, 2007—.
Craig E. Colten is an American academic and geographer. Born in Bogalusa, Louisiana, on August 16, 1952, Colten went on to earn a Ph.D. in 1984 from Syracuse University. He worked in field geography for the state government of Illinois and for an environmental consulting firm in Washington, DC, before becoming the Carl O. Sauer professor of geography at Louisiana State University. In 2006, he earned both the media achievement award and the J.B. Jackson Prize from the Association of American Geographers.
Colten has published a number of books on geographical and environmental topics since his first two books appeared in 1986: Industrial Waste Management Practices, 1890-1950: A Bibliography and Historical Industrial Waste Disposal Practices in Winnebago County, Illinois, 1870-1980, written with Gerard E. Breen. His other books include Environmental Liability, Property Transfers, and Historical Hazardous Materials: A Bibliography in 1990 with Diane Mulville-Friel and Douglas Moore; Derelict Properties: Scale and Scope of an Urban Environmental Problem in 1995 with the Illinois State Museum Society; and editing Transforming New Orleans and Its Environs: Centuries of Change in 2000.
In 1996, Colten published The Road to Love Canal: Managing Industrial Waste before EPA with Peter N. Skinner. The account looks at the mismanagement of the Love Canal landfill, a mid-twentieth-century chemical waste dumping ground in the City of Niagara Falls, New York, which was subsequently covered over and developed for housing. Richard E. Jackson, reviewing the book in Ground Water, noted the constant references to the 194 cases between the Hooker Chemical Company and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding the Love Canal landfill, commenting: "One cannot help but think that this book was written to ‘correct’ the court's finding." Jackson concluded that "while the authors have done an admirable job in reviewing the literature, their thesis that industry realized the seriousness of the environmental effects arising from the land disposal of chlorinated wastes in the mid-twentieth century warrants careful scrutiny. This thesis challenges the prevailing beliefs of most sanitary (i.e., environmental) engineers at the time."
Colten published An Unnatural Metropolis: Wresting New Orleans from Nature in 2005. The book examines the relationship the city of New Orleans, throughout its history, has had with its surrounding natural environment, having been built on a rapidly and constantly changing alluvial flood plain. Merrill L. Johnson, writing in the Geographical Review, commented of the book that "there is little to criticize. Some readers may object to how the chronological progression of topics leaves some discussions hanging until a later date in history. I would have appreciated a little more on the residential development of eastern New Orleans, an example of marsh removal and middle-class African American suburbanization. However, these are more quibbles than complaints." Johnson summarized that "above all, Colten's book provides an historical and environmental context for understanding why Hurricane Katrina was so devastating. Although the volume was published before the storm, Colten leaves us concluding that the damage from Katrina was an extreme version of the environmental adversity that has plagued the city for the last 300 years," adding that "Katrina was just the latest in a series of reminders of how unnatural a metropolis New Orleans really is." Johnson commented that An Unnatural Metropolis is "a valuable addition" to the scholarship on modern geography and environmental studies. Michael J. Rawson, writing in the Journal of Social History, observed that there are "places in Colten's history where he could dig deeper for the roots of causation." Rawson concluded: "Colten's book nevertheless remains an essential guide to the social and environmental history of New Orleans at a crucial point in the city's evolution. Much of it still lies in ruins, and policy makers need to make the most informed decisions they can about its future. Anyone involved in such conversations should read Colten's indispensable book before trying to understand the social and natural environment that is New Orleans."
In 2006, Colten published Southern United States: An Environmental History with Donald E. Davis, Barbara L. Allen, Mikko Saikku, and Megan Kate Nelson. The book covers the environmental history of the Southern United States, with a large section of the book discussing the land before the arrival of British colonists and African slaves. Colten, specifically, wrote the final chapter in the book, expanding upon the book's core arguments and the history of the twentieth century. Paul S. Sutter, writing in Environmental History, observed that "the careful attention to the early environmental history of the South means, unfortunately, that the postcolonial treatment is rushed and scatter-shot." Sutter acknowledged that Colten covered the standard topics in his chapter, but found that "there is little that is fresh." Sutter noted that the book "disappoints, less because of what the authors have contributed than because the unwieldy organizational structure of the volume stifles the full development of each of its components," adding that "in trying to do many things, the volume does none of them particularly well."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Scientist, July 1, 1997, Christopher Hamlin, review of The Road to Love Canal: Managing Industrial Waste before EPA, p. 394.
Annals of the Association of American Geographers, September, 1997, Marvin Waterstone, review of The Road to Love Canal, p. 536.
Business History Review, winter, 2005, Ann L. Buttenwierser, review of An Unnatural Metropolis: Wresting New Orleans from Nature, p. 861.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, July 1, 1996, J.T. Pfeffer, review of The Road to Love Canal, p. 1825; July 1, 2001, J.H. Hunter, review of Transforming New Orleans and Its Environs: Centuries of Change, p. 1989; November 2005, C. Montrie, review of An Unnatural Metropolis, p. 556.
Environmental History, January, 2007, Paul S. Sutter, review of Southern United States: An Environmental History.
Geographical Review, April, 2006, Merrill L. Johnson, review of An Unnatural Metropolis, p. 325.
Ground Water, May 1, 1998, Richard E. Jackson, review of The Road to Love Canal, p. 393.
Growth and Change, fall, 1996, Kathleen Segerson, review of The Road to Love Canal, p. 507.
Historical Geography, January 1, 2002, Martin Reuss, review of Transforming New Orleans and Its Environs, p. 195; January 1, 2006, Russell S. Kirby, review of An Unnatural Metropolis, p. 204.
Journal of American History, March, 1997, Christopher Sellers, review of The Road to Love Canal, p. 1505; December, 2005, Barbara L. Allen, review of An Unnatural Metropolis, p. 1017.
Journal of Economic History, June, 2002, Paul Paskoff, review of Transforming New Orleans and Its Environs, p. 616.
Journal of Historical Geography, January, 1995, Terence Young, review of The American Environment: Interpretations of Past Geographies, p. 105; January, 2006, Arn Keeling, review of An Unnatural Metropolis, p. 228.
Journal of Social History, summer, 2007, Michael J. Rawson, review of An Unnatural Metropolis, p. 1065.
Journal of Southern History, November, 2002, Michael T. Meier, review of Transforming New Orleans and Its Environs, p. 1015.
Journal of the American Planning Association, Ralph E. Thayer, review of Transforming New Orleans and Its Environs, p. 101.
Professional Geographer, November, 1997, Michael Heiman, review of The Road to Love Canal, p. 503; November, 2006, Matthew Liesch, review of An Unnatural Metropolis, p. 499.
Science Books & Films, June, 1996, review of The Road to Love Canal, p. 132.
Technology and Culture, April, 1994, Karen Miyoshi, review of The American Environment, p. 430; January, 1997, Rebecca S. Lowen, review of The Road to Love Canal, p. 269; July, 2002, Hugh S. Gorman, review of Transforming New Orleans and Its Environs, p. 617.
Department of Geography & Anthropology, Louisiana State University Web site,http://www.ga.lsu.edu/ (March 14, 2008), author profile.