A cotton harvester
Harvesting cotton

The Department of History’s Sebastian Garcia talked with Professor Frank Uekötter, a Professor of Environmental Humanities at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom working on environmental issues, both past and present, in a global context. Their conversation primarily focused on Professor Uekötter’s faculty talk event at UCF this past Monday (November 7th), which was about the Florida citrus industry and issues of monoculture in this region, but also more broadly (starts at 16:06). This naturally led some portions of the conversation in the podcast to discuss themes and topics from his upcoming book The Vortex: An Environmental History of the Modern World—however the final segment of the podcast is dedicated solely to talking about his book, which will be coming out in February 2023 (starts at 1:01:02).

Episode 26: Professor Frank Uekötter and Making Sense of the Juice: Florida Oranges and the Problems of Monoculture. Plus, a Sneak Peek of His Upcoming Book, The Vortex: An Environmental History of the Modern World

Professor Uekotter also delivered two lectures, one at Kent State University in Ohio on October 27 entitled "History in a Glass: Florida Oranges and the World of Monoculture"), and the second at the University of Central Florida on November 7 ("Making Sense of the Juice: Florida Oranges and the Problems of Monoculture"). The two different lectures both used orange cultivation in Florida as a starting point from which to explore the impacts of monocultures on economies, societies, and the food we eat.

Professor Uekotter is currently working on an ERC funded research project that traces the pathways towards monoculture and looks for recurring patterns and trajectories, common challenges and typical mindsets and thus aims to provide a better understanding of monocultures’ underlying rationales and dynamisms. The project approaches monocultures as ecological and socioeconomic trouble spots while also seeking to address the place of monocultures in the ongoing debates about the modern food system.

For more information, check out the project’s website:

The Making of Monoculture: A Global History - University of Birmingham