Pests in the City: Flies, Bedbugs, Cockroaches, and Rats

Paperback | January 28, 2015

byDawn Day BiehlerForeword byWilliam CrononEditorPaul S. Sutter

not yet rated|write a review

From tenements to alleyways to latrines, twentieth-century American cities created spaces where pests flourished and people struggled for healthy living conditions. In Pests in the City, Dawn Day Biehler argues that the urban ecologies that supported pests were shaped not only by the physical features of cities but also by social inequalities, housing policies, and ideas about domestic space.

Community activists and social reformers strived to control pests in cities such as Washington, DC, Chicago, Baltimore, New York, and Milwaukee, but such efforts fell short when authorities blamed families and neighborhood culture for infestations rather than attacking racial segregation or urban disinvestment. Pest-control campaigns tended to target public or private spaces, but pests and pesticides moved readily across the porous boundaries between homes and neighborhoods.

This story of flies, bedbugs, cockroaches, and rats reveals that such creatures thrived on lax code enforcement and the marginalization of the poor, immigrants, and people of color. As Biehler shows, urban pests have remained a persistent problem at the intersection of public health, politics, and environmental justice, even amid promises of modernity and sustainability in American cities.

Pricing and Purchase Info

$28.95

Ships within 1-3 weeks
Ships free on orders over $25

From the Publisher

From tenements to alleyways to latrines, twentieth-century American cities created spaces where pests flourished and people struggled for healthy living conditions. In Pests in the City, Dawn Day Biehler argues that the urban ecologies that supported pests were shaped not only by the physical features of cities but also by social ineq...

Dawn Day Biehler is assistant professor of geography and environmental studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She lives with her family in Washington, D.C.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:360 pages, 8.6 × 5.6 × 0.98 inPublished:January 28, 2015Publisher:University Of Washington PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0295994827

ISBN - 13:9780295994826

Look for similar items by category:

Customer Reviews of Pests in the City: Flies, Bedbugs, Cockroaches, and Rats

Reviews

Extra Content

Table of Contents

Foreword by William Cronon Acknowledgments Introduction: History, Ecology, and the Politics of Pests

Part OneThe Promises of Modern Pest Control

1. Flies: Agents of Interconnection in Progressive Era Cities

2. Bedbugs: Creatures of Community in Modernizing Cities

3. German Cockroaches: Permeable Homes in the Postwar Era

4. Norway Rats: Back-Alley Ecology in the Chemical Age

Part TwoPersistence and Resistance in the Age of Ecology

5. The Ecology of Injustice: Rats in the Civil Rights Era

6. Integrating Urban Homes: Cockroaches and Survival

Epilogue: The Persistence and Resurgence of Bedbugs

NotesSelected Bibliography Index

Editorial Reviews

From tenements to alleyways to latrines, twentieth-century American cities created spaces where pests flourished and people struggled for healthy living conditions. In Pests in the City, Dawn Day Biehler argues that the urban ecologies that supported pests were shaped not only by the physical features of cities but also by social inequalities, housing policies, and ideas about domestic space.Community activists and social reformers strived to control pests in cities such as Washington, DC, Chicago, Baltimore, New York, and Milwaukee, but such efforts fell short when authorities blamed families and neighborhood culture for infestations rather than attacking racial segregation or urban disinvestment. Pest-control campaigns tended to target public or private spaces, but pests and pesticides moved readily across the porous boundaries between homes and neighborhoods.This story of flies, bedbugs, cockroaches, and rats reveals that such creatures thrived on lax code enforcement and the marginalization of the poor, immigrants, and people of color. As Biehler shows, urban pests have remained a persistent problem at the intersection of public health, politics, and environmental justice, even amid promises of modernity and sustainability in American cities.The environmental history of people and animals has for too long focused on charismatic megafauna - wolves, grizzlies, cougars - when in fact the day-to-day lives of a great many people are much more intimately involved with less fearsome but rather more troublesome creatures. In this fascinating and important book, Dawn Day Biehler brilliantly demonstrates how much we can learn about environmental politics and social justice by studying the animals who share our urban homes with us. - William Cronon