National Parks in Colombia: A History of Territorial State Building, 1940–2010
Donnelly Family Fellowship, 2018–19
Claudia was born and lives at 2,600 meters above sea level in Bogotá (the capital of Colombia), where she is associate professor at the Department of History at Universidad de los Andes. She holds a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of California at Berkeley, but passes for a historian who likes to think about the environment. Although she identifies with mountains, she has done most of her research on rainforest regions and on the role of “race” in the process of nation building in Latin America. Her book Landscapes of Freedom, Building a Postemancipation Society in the Rainforests of Western Colombia (The University of Arizona Press) came out in 2018, as well as A Living Past, Environmental Histories of Modern Latin America (Berghahn Books), which she edited with John Soluri and José Augusto Pádua. She is vice-president of the International Consortium of Environmental History Organizations (ICEHO) and was co-president of the Latin American and Caribbean Society for Environmental History (SOLCHA). She has been visiting professor at Stanford University and Universidad Católica de Chile, and fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society. At the National Humanities Center she is writing a history of Colombian national parks which tries to understand how the state functions and is constructed in space. She is also interested in the relationship between armed conflict and environments, and in the history of animals. She is married to Shawn Van Ausdal and has two adorable little monsters (well three, two Homo sapiens and a dog called Rosita who stayed back home).
- Claudia Leal and Pablo Mejía’s documentary Paradise Lost (A Orillas del Duda), on the history of an ecological research station located in guerrilla territory in the jungle, is now available on YouTube.
- Lecturer, History & Philosophy of Science talk series, University of Texas, Austin: “Preserving a Natural Wonder for Scientific Research: The Unusual Beginning of Nature Conservation in Colombia (1940s-1950s),” Friday, February 8, 2019, 12:00pm to 1:30pm, WAG 316.
- Lecturer, History of Science Seminars, Harvard University: “The enigma of an impossible balance: Studying the jungle in a country at war,” Thursday, November 15, 2018, 12:00pm to 1:30pm.
- NHC Beyond Beauty: Exploring the Environmental Humanities series: “Nature, Citizenship, and the Creation of Colombia’s National Parks,” at Chapel Hill Public Library, January 19, 2019
- Panelist, NHC Conference: “Beyond Despair: Theory and Practice in Environmental Humanities,” April 3–5, 2019
- Soluri, John, Claudia Leal, and José Augusto Pádua, eds. A Living Past: Environmental Histories of Modern Latin America. New York: Berghahn, 2018.
- Leal, Claudia. Landscapes of Freedom: Building a Postemancipation Society in the Rainforests of Western Colombia. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 2018.
- Hardenberg, Wilko Graf von, Matthew Kelly, Claudia Leal, and Emily Wakild, eds. The Nature State: Rethinking the History of Conservation. London: Routledge, 2017.
- Leal, Claudia. “Conservation Memories: Vicissitudes of a Biodiversity Conservation Project in the Rainforests of Colombia, 1992–1998.” Environmental History 20, no. 3 (2015): 368–95.
- Langebaek, Carl Henrik, and Claudia Leal. Historias de raza y nación en América latina. Bogotá: Universidad de los Andes, Departamentos de Antropología e Historia, Centro de Estudios Socioculturales e Internacionales (CESO), 2010.