Pests in the City: Flies, Bedbugs, Cockroaches, and Rats

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University of Washington Press, Oct 13, 2013 - Nature - 360 pages

From tenements to alleyways to latrines, twentieth-century American cities created spaces where pests flourished and people struggled for healthy living conditions. In Pests in the City, Dawn Day Biehler argues that the urban ecologies that supported pests were shaped not only by the physical features of cities but also by social inequalities, housing policies, and ideas about domestic space.

Community activists and social reformers strived to control pests in cities such as Washington, DC, Chicago, Baltimore, New York, and Milwaukee, but such efforts fell short when authorities blamed families and neighborhood culture for infestations rather than attacking racial segregation or urban disinvestment. Pest-control campaigns tended to target public or private spaces, but pests and pesticides moved readily across the porous boundaries between homes and neighborhoods.

This story of flies, bedbugs, cockroaches, and rats reveals that such creatures thrived on lax code enforcement and the marginalization of the poor, immigrants, and people of color. As Biehler shows, urban pests have remained a persistent problem at the intersection of public health, politics, and environmental justice, even amid promises of modernity and sustainability in American cities.

Watch the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GG9PFxLY7K4&feature=c4-overview&list=UUge4MONgLFncQ1w1C_BnHcw

 

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Contents

History Ecology and the Politics of Pests
3
The Promise of Modern Pest Control
13
Persistence and Resistance in the Age of Ecology
139
The Persistence and Resurgence of Bedbugs
205
Notes
217
Selected Bibliography
279
Index
309
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

Dawn Day Biehler is assistant professor of geography and environmental studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She lives with her family in Washington, D.C.

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