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Forthcoming Publications and Works in Progress

Zappia is working on multiple writing projects including three book manuscripts and six shorter articles and chapters. His current work reflects similar themes as his earlier publications, digging into the deep historical layers of continental and global food systems.  His book manuscript currently in development, "Food Frontiers: Indigenous Commodities, Landscapes, and Power in Early North America," seeks to situate Native American food systems within the larger contours of world history.

But Zappia's new work also explores other more contemporary issues related to sustainability, Indigeneity, and the future of food systems. Two of his other book manuscripts,  "Indigenous Archives and Indigenous Knowledge in History: Keepers, Tellers, and Translation" (co-edited with Lisbeth Haas; under contract, University of Nebraska Press), and “The Future Histories of Farming” (with Ashkan Soltani) brings together these themes.  

Works in Progress Include:

Food Frontiers: Indigenous Space, Power, and North America's Food System, 900-1850




Zappia's manuscript explores the evolution of food in the early American West. It closely examines the political-economic, cultural, technological, and environmental transformations that helped create new food systems across the vast distances of continental North America. Within this region, food systems required myriad supporting components, including infrastructure, transportation networks, producers, consumers, and irrigation. In similar ways, Natives and Euro-Americans employed varying agricultural and horticultural techniques over a period of three centuries, ultimately converging on complex, overlapping systems of grass management by the early 1800s. As in the Great Plains, grass supported large herbivores like livestock (especially horses, mules, sheep, and cattle) that simultaneously fueled regional and global markets for hides, wool, tallow, and slaves. By closely examining the intimate connections between families, villages, migrations, and land use that stitched together Indigenous and Euro-American food systems, we can better understand the ecological forces that paved the way for the modern Far West.

This work has benefited from the generous support of several fellowships and grants, including those from UCLA's Institute of American Cultures, NEH, Huntington Library, Autry National Center, New York Public Library, and American Philosophical Society. Sections of this work appear or will be featured in Environmental HistoryWorld History ConnectedGreat Plains: An Environmental History, and Early American Studies.


The Future Histories of Farming


Since its inception, urban development, technological innovation, and abundant food production have defined California. In the twenty-first century, two great valleys comprised of silicon and soil will remain the economic juggernauts nurturing this continued growth, thrusting California atop its perch among the top five economies in the world. The fast-approaching future, though, portends a new alignment between tech and ag. This trend also overlaps with increasingly blurred urban and rural landscapes. Tech will flatten distances and agriculture will grow ever-more “smarter.” The future of farming, then, is more than ever inextricably linked to the future of technology. 


But farming’s future also rests on deeper histories of landscape, ecology, and philosophy. This particularly resonates within California—the ultimate landscape of paradoxes. The Future Histories of Farmingexplores the tensions between mechanization and autonomous human labor, agrarian philosophers and techno-farming evangelists, individual households and globalized consumption. Ultimately, this project seeks to interrogate one of the fundamental questions of our time: will farming remain in human hands, hearts, and minds? Or like other technologies, will it finally and completely escape our collective consciousness and its once-central role in generating meaning in our lives? As with other realms of human experience, California offers the clearest preview of how answers to these questions play out over the next century during the approaching era of rapid climate change.


The Future Histories of Farmingnavigates these existential questions through the lives of California farmers, agro-technologists, zero waste evangelists, food justice advocates, hyperlocal urban livestock purveyors, foodie-oriented chefs, practitioners of traditional ecological knowledge, culinary educators, policy makers, beekeepers, and farming futurists. This book chooses a kaleidoscopic approach that reflects the complex mosaic that comprises our Californian (and global) food system. 

Other Publications Under Review or in Preparation:

Articles and    “Mojave, 1450-1500 CE.,” in Dagomar Degroot and J. R. McNeill, eds., 

Chapters         Handbook of Societal Resilience to Past Climate Change (Oxford University Press)


Books              “A Tale of Two Grasses: Corn, Wheat, and the Making of the Modern World”


Films               “The Future Histories of Farming”

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