Associate Professor of History
Office Location: 225 Meredith Hall
Amahia Mallea (Ph.D., University of Missouri, 2006) is an environmental historian interested in the relationship between American societies and their lands and resources. Subjects of interest include cities, rivers and agriculture.
Mallea’s first book is Health and Wealth: An Urban Environmental History of the Kansas Cities and the Missouri River and will be published by the University Press of Kansas. In it she argues that Kansas City boosters’ century-long obsession with managing the river for flood control and navigation benefited a minority but wrought negative social and ecological costs for the majority. The public health and urban innards of the Kansas Cities—drinking water and sewerage—have always been inextricably tied to the river but not until recently have urban and environmental questions begun to shape river management. Her work on the river also appears as a chapter in Heartland Green (University of Pittsburgh Press) and an article in Agricultural History.
More recently, research has taken her to the U.S.-Mexico borderlands to investigate public health and environmental issues. Of special interest is the border city of Nogales, part of the Santa Cruz River watershed, which struggles to manage sewage and pollution across an international boundary. The U.S. benefits from the maquiladoras and cheap labor on the border, but not without the finding itself downstream from the waste of a burgeoning border population. Other projects include Basque environmental history, doping and the "natural" athlete, and creating an exhibit with students about Iowa’s food history.
Since coming to Drake in 2007, Mallea has taught courses about the American west, food, public health, and urban environmental history. She teaches the surveys in American history through a social lens and emphasizes primary source analysis, interpretation and historiography. Mallea works closely with students on internships, research projects and community engagement.
Personal interests include attending Iowa Cubs games, volunteering at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, traveling by bicycle, and walking the neighborhoods of Des Moines with family.