skip to content

From Collection to Cultivation



Zsuzsanna Dominika Ihar is a PhD student in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. Her research on Hebridean environmental and agricultural history is supported by funding from the Gates Foundation. Her dissertation project intends to explore the role of environmental and agricultural science in the militarisation of the Hebridean archipelago—during and subsequent to the Cold War. Starting with Operation Vegetarian in the 1940s, the dissertation will examine how scientific expertise was initially mobilised to justify the construction of extensive military testing ranges, missile systems, and waste repositories. Later on, however, it will be argued that the work of geographers, ecologists, and agronomists became key to greening efforts, agro-revitalisation projects, and the attempted demilitarisation of the region. Indeed, within the context of the Cold War, the Hebridean archipelago existed as an open-air laboratory of sorts, allowing scientists, crofters, activists, and government agents to redefine concepts of value, sustainability, food security, sovereignty, as well as the very tenets of agronomy and ecology. By highlighting the ways in which environmental conservation and crop cultivation gradually folded into paradoxical projects of militarism and greening, the dissertation will hope to complicate both military and agro-environmental history.

Prior to starting her doctorate, Zsuzsanna was a knowledge management fellow at ICARDA. She holds a Bachelor of Science/Arts and a Master of Arts (Research) from the University of Sydney, majoring in Environmental Sociology. She was supervised by Prof. Sonja van Wichelen and Prof. Astrida Neimanis. 

For more on Zsuzsanna's doctoral project, 'Armed and Arable: The Greening of a Cold-War Archipelago (1942–2022)', visit her project page here.