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HIST UN3019 Rivers, Politics, and Power in the United States. 4 points.

Rivers have played a central role in the creation of the modern United States whether through the trade networks they formed or the rise of the environmental movement in the twentieth century when stinking and burning rivers across the nation made it impossible to ignore the costs of economic progress. This seminar begins by defining rivers as a unique natural and historical process, followed by an exploration of rivers' connections to the rise of capitalism and nationalism, but the course focuses on the history of the twentieth century when rivers become important international borders, cities boomed, and citizens debated how to control rivers and the people who lived along them. While rivers such as the Columbia River have served to concentrate wealth and political power through government-built dams administered by an elite group of bureaucrats, others like many of the flood-prone rivers of the South have limited both economic development and landlord's ability to control people. This seminar is an environmental, political, and social history of rivers in the United States, that uses the two rivers closest to Columbia's campus, the Hudson and Harlem rivers, as case studies for the entire course.