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Amanda Bosworth

Graduate Student

Amanda Bosworth

Educational Background

M.A., Cornell University, 2017.

M.S.W., University of Michigan, 2009.

B.S., Olivet Nazarene University, 2007.




I am a Ph.D. candidate graduating in May 2020. My dissertation-in-progress, entitled After “Walrussia”: American, Russian, Canadian, and Japanese Seals between Empires, 1867-1911, unites marine environmental history and foreign relations history. I take my title from a popular, humorous moniker - “Walrussia” - applied to Alaska by American newspaper reporters after its purchase from Russia in 1867. This moniker highlights the ways in which both Russian and American colonizers envisioned and experienced Alaska as a marine space. I argue that the fur seal industry—begun by Russians and transferred to Americans by way of Aleutian Island natives—was the basis of transnational relations in the North Pacific following the geopolitical rupture of the transfer of Alaska. When Americans and Canadians made the prudent ecological decision to protect North American fur seals, the problem simply shifted westward, and the Russian navy began to collide with sealhunters. The diplomatic incidents that ensued forced the empires of the North Pacific to carefully delimit maritime boundaries in what they had viewed as a peripheral region.

I use the theoretical framework of the boundary object, borrowed from sociology and information science, to explain how seals acted as translational, relational workers between humans, organizing interactions between governments. I move the concept into the field of history and suggest that living boundary objects might be called boundary subjects, with cultures and agency of their own. By adding Russian archival documents to traditional English-language histories of the North Pacific fur seal controversy, I am able to tell a robust, transnational story that reflects the nature of the fur seal and the creation of the world's first international treaty to protect an animal species.

My teaching fields include American, Russian and Soviet, maritime, environmental, transnational, global, and imperial history; Alaska/Pacific Northwest/Russian Far East regional history; blue humanities; and pedagogy. I have five years of experience teaching history to middle school and high school students in New York City, as well as experience curating history exhibits for the New-York Historical Society.

Advisor:  Penny Von Eschen


  • History


  • Transnational history.
  • Environmental history.
  • Maritime history.
  • American foreign relations.
  • Imperial Russian history.


"Barnum's Whales: The Showman and the Forging of Modern Animal Captivity," Perspectives on History 56, no. 4 (April 2018): 17-19.