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Associate Professor of History, Drake University

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 joined the History Department at Drake University in 2007.

Mallea’s first book, A River in the City of Fountains: An Environmental History of Kansas City and the Missouri River, was 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.

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.

Professional affiliations include the American Society for Environmental History and the Western History Association.


  • –present
    Associate Professor of History, Drake University