The Environment and World History
Publication Year: 2009
The wide range of regional studies—including some in Russia, China, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, Latin America, Southern Africa, and Western Europe—together with the book's broader thematic essays makes The Environment and World History ideal for courses that seek to incorporate the environment and environmental change more fully into a truly integrative understanding of world history.
CONTRIBUTORS: Michael Adas, William Beinart, Edmund Burke III, Mark Cioc, Kenneth Pomeranz, Mahesh Rangarajan, John F. Richards, Lise Sedrez, Douglas R. Weiner
Published by: University of California Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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List of Figures, Maps, and Tables
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Environmental history has the potential to transform our understanding of thehuman past. Like the perspective of gender history, an environmental perspectiveis not readily contained within existing subdisciplines of history. By focusing onthe impact of human activity on the biosphere, the environmental perspective notonly opens new topics for investigation but also changes our understanding of the...
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The idea for this volume derived from Edmund Burke’s 1998 National Endowmentfor the Humanities Institute for College Teachers, “The Environment and WorldHistory.” The lively questions and comments raised by the participants and pre-senters in the institute encouraged us to proceed with publication of some of thepresentations. Drafts of five of the chapters included here were originally pre-...
PART ONE: OVERVIEW
1. Introduction: World History and Environmental History
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This book’s preface argues that a closer integration of world history and environ-mental history is “an urgent intellectual project.” This idea is hardly new, butscholars still have a long way to go in implementing it. In certain obvious ways, theperspectives of world history and environmental history seem to fit together read-ily: land formations, wind patterns, and other geophysical phenomena pay no...
2. The Big Story: Human History, Energy Regimes, and the Environment
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Most histories depict the present as the endpoint of an ascending trajectory that linksthe agricultural revolution, classical Greece, the Renaissance, the IndustrialRevolution, and modern times. This may make for good teleology, but is such agraph plausible? There are several reasons to think not. First, we have no evidencethat modernity is a permanent stage in human history, particularly when we consider...
3. Toward a Global System of Property Rights in Land
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Since the late fifteenth century, the global landscape has been transformed byhuman action.1 Land, formerly abundant in most parts of the world, has becomerelatively scarce and valuable as human numbers have increased twelvefold (from0.5 to 6 billion people). Land use for agriculture, pastoralism, resource extraction,industrial production, commerce, and human settlement has become more special-...
PART TWO: RIVERS, REGIONS, AND DEVELOPMENTALISM
4. The Transformation of the Middle Eastern Environment, 1500 B.C.E.–2000 C.E.
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The environment is rarely mentioned in most histories of the modern Middle East.It tends to hover on the margins of discussions of other, presumably more impor-tant topics, such as the onset of imperialism and nationalism and the region’s polit-ical and economic transformation. Indeed, most histories of the modern MiddleEast regard the environment as a source of backwardness, which only the applica-...
5. The Transformation of China’s Environment, 1500–2000
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China has often served as the supposed antithesis of Western environmental trends.Sometimes it has been praised (for example, for careful, loving attention to the soilor for Maoist indifference to materialism); at other times it has been damned (forimprovident pronatalism or for a Stalinist obsession with heavy industry). Morerecently, writers have argued that China has not proved very different in the long...
6. The Rhine as a World River
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The Rhine is one of the world’s great commercial streams, second only to theMississippi in the tonnage of freight it carries annually. It drains eight Europeanstates along its northwesterly path from the Alps to the North Sea: Switzerland,Austria, Liechtenstein, Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and theNetherlands. Four are central to Rhine political and ecological affairs: Switzerland,...
7. Continuity and Transformation: Colonial Rice Frontiers and Their Environmental Impact on the Great River Deltas of Mainland Southeast Asia
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For Americans at least, the term frontier conjurers up images of the Great Plains orthe West, of ranchers and sod-house farmers, cavalrymen, and Native Americanresistance to the inexorable advance of Euroamerican settlement. But the UnitedStates frontier was only one example of a larger type of settler expansion into areasfrom Australia and Argentina to Russia and Canada that have been aptly termed...
PART THREE: LANDSCAPES, CONQUESTS, COMMUNITIES, AND THE POLITICS OF KNOWLEDGE
8. Beyond the Colonial Paradigm: African History and Environmental History in Large-Scale Perspective
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Human beings are, before anything else, biological entities. Their interactions withother species and with the natural environment, and their appropriation of the nat-ural resources without which life is impossible, must be central elements in humanhistory. Significant sorties have been made into this terrain in a variety of historicalwriting, and perhaps more in other disciplines. Some earlier Western intellectual...
9. Environmental Histories of India: Of States, Landscapes, and Ecologies
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Environmental change in colonial India was once largely outside the purview ofhistorical scholarship but is now a flourishing subject. The sheer size of the popu-lation of the country, now accounting for one in six people on the planet, and itscentrality to European projects of global domination since the late eighteenth cen-tury make it inevitable that imperial impact and its aftermath should form a major...
10. Latin American Environmental History: A Shifting Old/New Field
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In 1902 the Brazilian author Euclides da Cunha published a riveting work about aregional rebellion against the newly established republic and its subsequent sup-pression by the federal government.1 A masterpiece on identity, race, and nationbuilding, it contained, to the despair of the following generations of high schoolstudents, a long and detailed chapter on the dry land of the Brazilian northeast and...
11. The Predatory Tribute-Taking State: A Framework for Understanding Russian Environmental History
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Without embracing yet another rigid determinism, it may be proposed that certainforms of political economy leave their own footprints on the physical landscapeand bequeath identifiable environmental legacies. At least one scholar has evenattempted an ecological “archaeology of colonialism.”1 One problem that the envi-ronmental historian seeks to explain is how particular socioeconomic and political...
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List of Contributors
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Page Count: 384
Publication Year: 2009
Series Title: California World History Library