Field: United States; Advisor: Guridy and Jacoby; Year: 2018
Amanda Martin-Hardin (she/her) is a doctoral candidate studying U.S. environmental history. Her dissertation, tentatively titled “The Nature of Civil Rights: Jim Crow Battles Over the Outdoors,” analyzes the impact of racism on access to outdoor recreation spaces from the late nineteenth through the mid-twentieth century. She researches how white public authorities segregated green spaces, as well as how people of color resisted their exclusion from the outdoors. Her dissertation will be the first environmental history that chronicles urban parks in tandem with remote outdoor locations to show how the visual culture of landscapes corresponded with the development of racist categories in Jim Crow America. She has published work in Environmental History, Environmental History Now, and Zócalo Public Square. She is also the creator of Everyday Environmentalism, a podcast that chronicles the past and present of urban nature in New York City.
Amanda's dissertation and first book project, titled Greenlining: Civil Rights Struggles Over the Outdoors in the United States, offers a new interpretation of American civil rights that foregrounds battles for environmental equity as central to the movement. Amanda's dissertation will be the first to document “greenlining”–a term she introduced and defined as any attempt to deny people access to outdoor spaces based on their ascribed race. In the late nineteenth century, the concept of outdoor recreation spaces and “nature” as an amenity began to congeal in the United States. This corresponded with the simultaneous rise of Jim Crow segregation, resulting in legal restrictions that prevented African Americans from accessing outdoor spaces across the country. Greenlining includes case studies in both the North and South—including New York, West Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Maryland—that reveal the national scale of outdoor segregation. Rather than only emphasizing oppression in the outdoors, however, Greenlining also documents how civil rights activists have resisted outdoor segregation since it began. While current U.S. historiographies often place the beginning of the environmental justice movement in the 1980s, Greenlining demonstrates how Black organizers have both envisioned and advocated for more just ecologies for well over a century. Amanda's research has been funded by the Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College, Dumbarton Oaks, and the Oak Spring Garden Foundation.
“Nature in Black and White: Summer Camps and Racialized Landscapes in the Photography of Gordon Parks,” Environmental History Volume 23, Issue 3 (July 2018): 594-605.
“Central Park’s ‘Gate of Exoneration’ invites reflection on racism in parks,” The Washington Post, December 19, 2022.
“Archives, Images, and Evolving Questions: Mapping the Great Outdoors in Black New York,” Environmental History Now, September 6, 2021.
“‘Sharp and Subversive’ Scenes of Integrated 1940s Summer Camps,” Zócalo Public Square, July 23, 2020.
Prior to studying at Columbia, Amanda received a B.A. in American studies (with a minor in photojournalism) from the University of Texas in Austin, and an M.A. in history from Montana State University. After completing her undergraduate degree, she worked for several years as a professional photographer before re-entering the academic world. Her previous photographic work continues to inform her research interests and commitment to multimedia projects.
Amanda also practices public history. She developed and taught a course at the Museum of the City of New York; led historical walking tours in Bozeman, Montana; and co-curated archival exhibits at Montana State University and Columbia.
Amanda is passionate about teaching history and has taught undergraduate courses since 2015. In 2017, she was awarded the College of Letters and Sciences Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant at Montana State University.
Amanda is committed to practicing public history. In 2022, Amanda wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post that contextualized the wrongful conviction of the “Central Park Five” within a longer history of racism in public parks. In 2021, the SOF/Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia gave her a grant to create a podcast with undergraduates (whom she hired and taught audio production skills) called “Everyday Environmentalism,” which shares conversations about “urban nature” and environmental activism in New York City. Finally, Amanda's Environmental History article was used to train museum staff and volunteers for the California African American Museum’s 2023 exhibition, “Black California Dreamin’: Claiming Space at America’s Leisure Frontier.”
In Spring 2024, Amanda will hold a Visiting Assistant Professor position in Pratt’s Master of Landscape Architecture Program, where she will develop and teach a graduate-level course on the environmental history of North American landscapes. Since 2015, Amanda has cultivated a diverse pedagogical background as a teaching assistant at Montana State University and Columbia for classes such as “Nature and Power,” “The History of the City of New York,” and “Sport and Society in America.” In 2020, Amanda taught a free course for East Harlem middle school students at the Museum of the City of New York in tandem with their exhibit “City/Game: Basketball in New York.”
Amanda served as the Graduate Teaching Liaison for the History Department in 2023. In this position, she collaborated with faculty to host collegial conversations about teaching practices for her fellow graduate students. From 2019-2020, Amanda held a Teaching Observation Fellowship at Columbia’s Center for Teaching and Learning. In 2017, Amanda was recognized for her innovative teaching practices when Montana State University’s College of Letters and Sciences gave her its “Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant” award as a master’s student.
Additional professional experiences include:
Curatorial Assistant for the Rare Books & Manuscripts Library, 2019-present
Dumbarton Oaks Mellon Summer Fellow, 2022
New York Metro Seminar in Environmental History Co-Organizer, 2019-2021
SOF/Heyman Public Humanities Graduate Student Fellow, 2020-21
Co-President of the Graduate History Association, 2019-20
Teaching Observation Fellow for the Center for Teaching and Learning, 2019-20