Floating Coast

An Environmental History of the Bering Strait

17 September 2019


A ground-breaking exploration of the relationship between humans and the natural world where two great economic ideologies converge.

Along the Bering Strait, through the territories of the Inupiat and Yupik in Alaska, and the Yupik and Chukchi in Russia, Bathsheba Demuth explores an ecosystem that has long sustained human beings. Yet when Americans and Europeans arrived, the area became the site of an experiment and the modern ideologies of production and consumption, capitalism and communism were subject to the pressures of arctic scarcity.

Demuth draws a vivid portrait of the sweeping effects of turning ecological wealth into economic growth and state power over the past century and a half. More urgent in a warming climate and as we seek new economic ideas for a post-industrial age, Floating Coast delivers warnings and poses provocative questions about human desires and needs in relation to environmental sustainability.


"In Floating Coast, Bathsheba Demouth has written a brilliant hybrid book about one of the most fragile and forgotten of Anthropocene front-line territories, the Bering Strait. Uniting ecology, anthropology, reportage and more, this is a superb work of environmental history, often reminiscent to me of Barry Lopez's Arctic Dreams in its combination of rigorous research, intense looking and listening, and its clear ethical vision." — Robert Macfarlane

"... Demuth has now herself written the history she calls for. Floating Coast is a historian’s Moby Dick, a great white whale of a book that spans centuries and links landscapes, living beings, and the flux of time, into a marvelously readable narrative." — Amitav Ghosh

"Floating Coast is an extraordinary piece of history writing, seamlessly weaving together disparate elements. It is astonishingly rich in ethnographic detail, ecological precision, economic circumstance and historical texture." — Nature

"Floating Coast is rich, well researched and illuminating. It keeps under readers’ feet the vastness of Demuth’s expertise, as solid as a land bridge." — The International New York Times

"Demuth, an environmental historian at Brown University, has reaped rich and fascinating material from the oral history of the indigenous Beringians recorded by ethnographers." — Literary Review

"I have also greatly enjoyed and learned from... Bathsheba Demuth’s Floating Coast: An Environmental History of The Bering Strait..." — Robert Macfarlane, The Big Issue’s Books of the Year 2019, The Big Issue



165 x 244 mm • 416 pages


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