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Adam Mandelman

Graduate student (Ph.D.)

Photo of Adam Mandelman

Past Education

M.S., Geography, UW-Madison, 2008 (Advisor: Bill Cronon)
B.A., Sarah Lawrence College, 2003

Research Areas

Environmental history, science and technology studies, political ecology, cultural geography, environmental health, wetlands, borders and borderlands


I am an environmental historian and cultural geographer that works broadly on edges and permeability, from the categories of indigenous authenticity, to the uncertain boundaries of a deltaic landscape, to the porosity of the human body.

My dissertation, entitled "The Place With No Edge: Boundaries and Permeability in the Mississippi River Delta, 1845-2010," examines over 150 years of environmental change in southern Louisiana. Created over several thousand years by the muddy Mississippi, the delta is defined by flood, sediment, and muck. Yet the ambiguity of the landscape—a "place with no edge"—has often been interpreted as an invitation to eliminate environmental uncertainty in pursuit of rigid, impermeable boundaries. Since the early 18th century, Euro-American attempts to inhabit, rationalize, and render profitable this messy "wetlandscape" have left residents mired in unintended consequences. By following the flow of water through river levees, swamp logging frontiers, oil and gas canals, a subsiding city, and even human skin, my research suggests the perils of pursuing edges in a deltaic environment. I argue that understanding how people negotiated the watery places of the past is essential for confronting the drowned worlds of the future. More broadly, the project examines the changing social and ecological values at work in places where land and water meet.


Lecturer, Environmental Conservation (Geog 339)
UW-Madison Department of Geography & Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, Fall 2012

Teaching Assistant, Global Physical Environments (Geog 120)
Dr. John Williams & Dr. James Knox, UW-Madison Department of Geography, Spring 2009

Teaching Assistant, American Environmental History (History/Geog 460)
Dr. William Cronon, UW-Madison Department of History, Fall 2008


Mandelman, Adam. "Unstrategic Essentialism: Material Culture and Hawaiian Articulations of Indigeneity,"
Social and Cultural Geography 15 (2014): 172-200

Awards and Honors

2014, Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellowship in the Humanities, Institute for Research in the Humanities, UW-Madison

2014, Mellon-Wisconsin Summer Fellowship, UW-Madison

2013, Whitbeck Graduate Dissertator Award, Department of Geography, UW-Madison

2011, Trewartha Graduate Research Award, Department of Geography, UW-Madison

2008, Outstanding Graduate Student Symposium Paper: “Paths of Paradise: Representations of Culture and History on Hawai'i’s Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail,” Department of Geography, UW-Madison

2007, Graduate Research Fellowship, National Science Foundation (three years of support)

2006, University Fellowship and Vilas Welcome Award, UW-Madison (two years of support)

Contact Information

Website: http://www.adammandelman.net/

Mailing Address:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Department of Geography
550 N. Park Street
Madison, WI 53706

Email: : mandelman@wisc.edu

On Twitter: @amandelman