Skip to Content

College of Arts & Sciences
Department of History

Faculty Directory

Thomas Lekan

Associate Professor of History

Office: 135 Gambrell Hall
Degrees: B.A. Carleton College
M.A. University of Washington
Ph.D. University of Wisconsin
Phone: (803) 777-5928
Research Interests: Modern Germany, Environmental History, Urban History
Curriculum vitae: Download PDF


Professor Lekan teaches undergraduate surveys of European civilization and modern Germany, as well as specialized undergraduate courses and seminars on environmental history, the urban experience in modern Europe, and Nazi social history. His research focuses on European environmental history and the global dimensions of nature conservation, ecotourism, and green imperialism; comparative urban and regional planning history; and the environmental humanities.  His publications include Imagining the Nation in Nature: Landscape Preservation and German Identity, 1885-1945 (Harvard, 2004), the co-edited volume Germany’s Nature: Cultural Landscapes and Environmental History (Rutgers, 2005), and articles in the journals German History, The Journal of Modern History, and Environmental History that explore German  environmental traditions in a global and comparative perspective.  He is currently director of the USC History Center.  


Current Activities 

My current book manuscript, Saving the Serengeti: Tourism, the Cold War, and the Paradox of European Conservation in Postcolonial Africa, 1950-1985, investigates the blind spots and unintended consequences of wildlife protection, national parks, and nature tourism in the context of decolonization, the Cold War, mass tourism, and new media representations of nature.  I am also revising interdisciplinary essays in the environmental humanities that explore the visual culture of global environmentalism and the Anthropocene from postcolonial and post-humanist perspectives. These projects have received generous fellowship support from several institutions, including the American Council for Learned Societies, the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., Princeton University’s Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies, the National Humanities Center, and the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich.