Tamara Fernando, doctoral student in World History, has won the Alice Hamilton Prize of the American Society for Environmental History


Congratulations to Tamara Fernando, who received this year’s Alice Hamilton Prize for her article, ‘Seeing Like the Sea: A Multispecies History of the Ceylon Pearl Fishery, 1800-1925’.

The American Society for Environmental History awards the Hamilton prize to the best article on environmental history published outside the journal Environmental History. The article appeared in the September 2021 issue of Past & Present.

Calling the study ‘a tour-de-force of environmental history,’ the prize committee praised Fernando for offering ‘a multidisciplinary and multispecies perspective on the ecology of pearl-producing oyster reefs in the Gulf of Mannar.’ The citation goes on: ‘Fernando is ever mindful of the distinct and complex characteristics of the human communities who sought to profit from the Ceylon pearl fishery—from the specialized castes on both sides the Gulf who did the diving, to the British new-comers who came to monopolize the industry in the mid-nineteenth century. She brings out the physiological adjustments humans needed to dive without equipment into, and work in, such an alien world. But she nonetheless gives pride of place to the reefs and oysters in her exploration of natural resource cultivation and exploitation. The result is an article that combines poetry and marine biology, the labor archive and oral tradition.’