Connie Y. Chiang

Associate Professor of History and Environmental Studies

Teaching this semester

HIST 2640 / ENVS 2416. California Dreamin': A History of the Golden State

Connie Chiang
Seminar. Sunshine, beaches, shopping malls, and movie stars are the popular stereotypes of California, but social conflicts and environmental degradation have long tarnished the state’s golden image. Unravels the myth of the California dream by examining the state’s social and environmental history from the end of Mexican rule and the discovery of gold in 1848 to the early twenty-first century. Major topics include immigration and racial violence; radical and conservative politics; extractive and high-tech industries; environmental disasters; urban, suburban, and rural divides; and California in American popular culture. This course is part of the following field(s) of study: United States.

Connie Chiang studies modern United States history, with specialties in environmental history, the history of the American West, social history, and Asian American history. She is particularly interested in how shifting human interactions with and attitudes toward the natural world have transformed American society. She is the author of Shaping the Shoreline: Fisheries and Tourism on the Monterey Coast and has published articles in many journals, including the Journal of American History and Environmental History.

Her current book project, Nature Behind Barbed Wire: An Environmental History of the Japanese American Incarceration, explores how the environment shaped the confinement of over 110,000 people of Japanese descent during World War II.


  • Ph.D., History, University of Washington, 2002
  • M.A., History, University of Washington, 1997
  • B.A., History & Environmental Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1996

Major Publications


Shaping the Shoreline: Fisheries and Tourism on the Monterey Coast. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008.

Peer Reviewed Essays and Journal Articles

"Winning the War at Manzanar: Environmental Patriotism and the Japanese American Incarceration." In Rendering Nature: Animals, Bodies, Places, Politics, edited by Marguerite S. Shaffer and Phoebe S.K. Young, 237-262. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015.

"Race and Ethnicity in Environmental History." In Oxford Handbook of Environmental History, edited by Andrew C. Isenberg, 573-599. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

"National Unity and National Discord: The Western Homefront during World War II." With Charles Dorn, Associate Professor of Education, Bowdoin College. Theme Issue on Teaching the American West, Journal of the West 49, no. 3 (Summer 2010): 41-60.

"Imprisoned Nature: Toward an Environmental History of the World War II Japanese American Incarceration." Environmental History 15, no 2 (April 2010): 236-67.

"The Nose Knows: The Sense of Smell in American History," in "Roundtable: The Senses in American History." Journal of American History 95, no. 2 (September 2008): 405-16.

"Novel Tourism: Nature, Industry, and Literature on Monterey's Cannery Row." Western Historical Quarterly 25, no. 3 (Autumn 2004): 309-29.

Shaping the Shoreline: Fisheries and Tourism on the Monterey CoastWestern Historical Quarterly Cover Pacific Historical Review Cover

"Monterey-by-the-Smell: Odors and Social Conflict on the California Coastline." Pacific Historical Review 73, no. 2 (May 2004): 183-214.

"Connie Y. Chiang on 'Mother Nature's Drive-Thru.'" Environmental History 8, no. 4 (October 2003): 670-74.

17 mile drive at pebble beach advert

Research Interests

Research interests include:

  • American environmental history
  • History of the American West
  • Social history
  • Asian American history