621 Works

Campesinos and the Hidden History of Biodiversity

John Soluri
In an era of economic globalization, small farms have emerged as potent symbols of social justice and environmental sustainability. But the contemporary importance of campesinos, or small-scale cultivators, in Latin America is not only symbolic; they are responsible for substantial portion of the production of crops such as maize, beans, and yucca, and are more biologically diverse than large-scale farms. This article looks at the history of agrodiversity in Latin America using the example of...

Ore Mining in the Sauerland District in Germany: Development of Industrial Mining in a Rural Setting

Jan Ludwig
The Sauerland district in Germany is an example of a predominantly rural area in which small “isles” of industrialized mining developed during the nineteenth century. Ludwig traces the history of mining and smelting in Ramsbeck, showing how conflicting interests between mining and agriculture were negotiated. Although the mine owners had high hopes of an economic take-off in the 1850s, even comparing it to the mining boom in California, these hopes failed to materialize and real...

Ubiquitous Mining: The Spatial Patterns of Limestone Quarrying in Late Nineteenth-Century Rhineland

Sebastian Haumann
Haumann looks at the spatial patterns of open-pit limestone mining in the Mettmann district of Germany and tries to explain why these “holes” are in the places they are and why they took the shape they did. Although mining was of course to some extent determined by the location of limestone deposits, knowledge of the underground terrain and legal practices also played a major role in where mining actually took place. He concludes that cultural...

Uranium Mining and the Environment in East and West Germany

Manuel Schramm
Schramm compares the environmental impacts of uranium mining in East and West Germany. Problems included pollution of waterways, radioactive emanations from tailings, and the use of contaminated slag for building. While the local populations in both Germanys opposed uranium mining, this happened later in the East than in the West, in part because knowledge about the risks was at first not as widespread. Furthermore, uranium mining in West Germany took place on a much smaller...

On Being Edgy: The Potential of Parklands and Justice in the Global South

Emily Wakild
This article assesses the impact of Jane Carruthers’ seminal book The Kruger National Park, and looks at how the social sciences may have distorted how conservation has changed over time, developed in culturally distinct circumstances, and influenced or mitigated larger environmental challenges. What would we get if we reinvigorated the history of conservation with attention to other parks in other places, particularly in the Global South?

Mandy Martin’s Artistic Explorations

Jane Carruthers
Mandy Martin, a renowned and talented Australian artist, is a leader of environmental projects that explore the benefits of interdisciplinary collaboration between the written and visual. In this article, Jane Carruthers outline the merits of her artwork and the nature of her projects.

Dangerous Territory: The Contested Space Between Imperial Conservation and Environmental Justice

Bron Taylor
Protected areas are demarcated not only by physical boundaries but by differing, and sometimes incompatible, perceptions. For some, protected areas are the remnant of a commons, lost as agriculture, enclosures, and private property regimes spread. For others conservation areas have been expropriated by imperial peoples for their exclusive economic benefit. With reference to the California State Department of Parks and Recreation, this article looks at these romantic and critical narratives around protected areas, and highlights...

“But where the danger lies, also grows the saving power”: Reflections on Exploitation and Sustainability

Christof Mauch
This article looks at how the discovery and storming of the Americas made not just this continent into a new world, but Europe too. All of the Old World’s worries about sustainability were brushed aside with the sudden availability of land in the New World. Yet, as the article demonstrates, the illusion of having sufficient space and sufficient resources was perhaps the tragedy of modern Western history. Talk of “sustainable development” must not just take...

Thinking with Birds

Thomas R. Dunlap
Birds are the creatures that most often draw us to nature and hold our interest through life. How we think with them and how those ways of thinking have changed opens a window on our understanding of the world beyond the sidewalk. This article looks at three approaches, all from the late nineteenth century, which stand out today: birding, a mix of science, sentiment, self-education, and competition; birds around the home, mixing nature and our...

Animal Pasts, Humanised Futures: Living with Big Wild Animals in an Emerging Economy

Mahesh Rangarajan
In India, the twin features of economic expansion and political democracy complicate the story of human relations with the wider environment. And nowhere is this more sharply in evidence than with respect to the large animals that share living space with over a billion humans in the country. This article looks at India’s colonial history and the effect that recent economic and political changes have had on the country’s relationship with wild animals. It considers...

National Parks as Cosmopolitics

Bernhard Gissibl
Like few other topics, the study of national parks and equivalent protected areas has the potential to open the writing of environmental history towards ongoing discussions over transnational and global history, the history of development and foreign aid, and the recently burgeoning studies of cosmopolitanisms in the humanities and social sciences. This article explains how a renewed emphasis of the cosmopolitan aspects of conservationist park making could help to acknowledge the genuine moral commitment of...

Governing the “Wasteland”: Ecology and Shifting Political Subjectivities in Colonial Bengal

Iftekhar Iqbal
Looks at the changing governance practices towards agro-ecological resources and the political response that it received from the agrarian community in colonial eastern Bengal. Tracing this history offers an ecological understanding of the dynamics of political subjectivity, as well as revealing the emergence of ecological deterioration in the region. The British colonial government initially saw this region as a wasteland and made legislation that rewarded peasant production, which generated revenue. By the turn of the...

The Flight of Cranes: Militarized Nature at the North Korea–South Korea Border

Eleana Kim
Conservation areas within the Korean demilitarized zone generate new “natures” that are deeply political and enmeshed in evolving relations among humans and nonhumans, as seen using the example of migratory cranes. The endangered cranes literally transcend geopolitical borders, providing hope for the surmounting of the ideological differences that separate North and South. At the same time, these cranes have exhibited rather remarkable adaptations to the conditions of the national division: they adapted to utilizing the...

Doomed to Suffer in Silence? Living with Pollution in Industrialized Rural China

Anna Lora-Wainwright
China’s rapid emergence as an economic power over the past quarter century has been accompanied by growing concerns over environmental impacts, particularly in terms of pollution. Food safety scandals, large-scale pollution accidents, and widespread, persistent and routine pollution feature regularly in the media, both within China and beyond it. Rural villagers in China have a sophisticated awareness of the risks they face. Yet over time they learned they cannot demand an end to pollution and...

Africa’s Mountains: Collecting and Interpreting the Past

Christopher Conte
Highland landscapes are central to Africa’s agrarian history. People have successfully managed them for agriculture and pastoralism for thousands of years. Today these areas are a site of conflicts between conservation and the claims of small-scale farmers. This essay addresses the challenges of collecting and interpreting data for environmental history in East Africa’s highlands, in particular the lack of written sources and the importance of oral history, which required working with translators to interview residents.

The Ecology of Home

Xia Mingfang
All around us, we see the devastating results of humans’ exploitative and adversarial relationship to nature. But what if there were other ways to imagine this relationship? Can we think of the human/nature relationship as a marriage—not free from conflict, but as partners in a shared endeavor? Can we imagine humans and nature sharing the same “home”? What can we learn from traditional Chinese ecological wisdom in this regard? Drawing on myth, philosophy, cosmology, and...

Pelicans: Protection, Pests, and Private Property

Emily O'Gorman
57; 101-115; ISSN 0076-7689

The Cattle Guard

Etienne S. Benson
57; 101-115; ISSN 0076-7689

Viral Ethnography: Metaphors for Writing Life

Celia Lowe
57; 101-115; ISSN 0076-7689

Care, Gender, and Survival: The Curious Case of the Seahorse

Susanne Schmitt
57; 101-115; ISSN 0076-7689

The Australia Day Floods, January 1974

Margaret Cook
In January 1974, Brisbane experienced its fourth-highest recorded flood when a large monsoonal trough and associated cyclone dumped huge rainfall into the Brisbane River catchment. In the years between large floods, significant development of the floodplain had occurred, encouraged by the locals’ faith in Somerset Dam to alleviate flooding. Lives, houses, and industrial facilities were lost, swept away in raging floodwaters. Rather than regulate the floodplain, the Government pursued its plan to build a second...

The Bears Are Back! The LIFE Ursus Translocation Project in Trentino

Wilko Graf von Hardenberg
Since 1999 the EU-funded LIFE Ursus project has been active in bringing back the bear to the eastern Italian Alps. Attempts to preserve this species are almost a century old and have taken various forms: hunting laws, the institution of a nature reserve, different plans for reestablishment. But, until recently, none had ever been successful in establishing a viable population. The recent success of LIFE Ursus, however, has come with the usual conflicts between local...

More than a \"Paper Park\": Tayrona, a Caribbean Paradise

Claudia Leal
Tayrona, Colombia’s most cherished national park, covering 12,000 hectares of land and 3,000 hectares of sea, is known for its gorgeous bays surrounded by tropical forests that creep up the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. More than fifty years have gone by since its designation in 1964, and the park service’s dream of controlling an uninhabited wilderness seems as elusive as ever. While it is tempting to conclude that this is just...

The AC Electrical Grid: Transitions into the Twenty-First Century

José R. Martí
This essay discusses the history and future of the AC electrical grid. Despite the complexity of the electrical grid, electricity has become ubiquitous to the point that, in modern societies, it is taken for granted. In the twenty-first century this will be different. It will no longer be possible to ignore cost and environmental impact, and the continued availability of affordable electricity will no longer be a given. The AC grid is inherently unstable and...

National Parks in Britain: The Social Democratic Paradox

Matthew Kelly
National parks were first designated in Britain by the Labour governments of 1945-51 and were a part of the social democratic ‘moment’ that created post-war Britain. The designations were weak, giving the new authorities little control over what happened in the parks, particularly with respect to agriculture. Despite this, ‘park interests’ united in their concern about the effect of mass tourism, only gradually becoming concerned about the effect of agricultural intensification on park ecologies.

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