Christopher Sellers

Historian Christopher Sellers is a professor at New York’s Stonybrook University where he concentrates on the history of environment and health, of cities and industries, and of inequality and democracy, with a focus on the United States and Mexico. Among his numerous grants, fellowships, and awards are those from the National Science Foundation, the National Humanities Center, and the National Library of Medicine. He began his career studying the environmental and health histories of industrialization and of institutional bulwarks such as medicine and the corporation, which led to works such as Hazards of the Job (1997); (with Christine Rosen) The Nature of the Firm (1999); and (edited with Gregg Mitman and Michelle Murphy) Landscapes of Exposure (2003). He then studied the ties between sub/urbanization and those experiences, movements, expertise and politics characterized as "environmental." This resulting in Crabgrass Crucible (2012) and a forthcoming book on Atlanta, which also steps back to ask questions about inequality and democracy. Currently a visiting professor at the Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, he is writing his latest book Clouds over Petropolis, an in-depth comparative and transnational study of the history of cities born of the petrochemical industry in Mexico and the United States. He also led the founding of the History of Environment and Health Network (HEHN) and H-EnviroHealth , which he co-edits, and from 2016, was a co-founder and co-moderator of the   Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, an influential network of scholar- and scientist-activists. (

Texas’ devotion to a ‘free’ market, a wobbly polar vortex, and 4.5 million shivering in the dark

Editor’s note: A version of this essay originally appeared as a collaboration between two...