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New Natures

Joining Environmental History with Science and Technology Studies

Edited by Dolly Jørgensen, Finn Arne Jørgensen, and Sara B. Pritchard

Publication Year: 2013

New Natures broadens the dialogue between the disciplines of science and technology studies (STS) and environmental history in hopes of deepening and even transforming understandings of human-nature interactions. The volume presents richly developed historical studies that explicitly engage with key STS theories, offering models for how these theories can help crystallize central lessons from empirical histories, facilitate comparative analysis, and provide a language for complicated historical phenomena. Overall, the collection exemplifies the fruitfulness of cross-disciplinary thinking. The chapters follow three central themes: ways of knowing, or how knowledge is produced and how this mediates our understanding of the environment; constructions of environmental expertise, showing how expertise is evaluated according to categories, categorization, hierarchies, and the power afforded to expertise; and lastly, an analysis of networks, mobilities, and boundaries, demonstrating how knowledge is both diffused and constrained and what this means for humans and the environment. Contributors explore these themes by discussing a wide array of topics, including farming, forestry, indigenous land management, ecological science, pollution, trade, energy, and outer space, among others. The epilogue, by the eminent environmental historian Sverker Sörlin, views the deep entanglements of humans and nature in contemporary urbanity and argues we should preserve this relationship in the future. Additionally, the volume looks to extend the valuable conversation between STS and environmental history to wider communities that include policy makers and other stakeholders, as many of the issues raised can inform future courses of action.

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

In October 2008, Dolly Jørgensen and Finn Arne Jørgensen, then affiliated with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, proposed the idea for a small conference on the contributions of science and technology studies (STS) to environmental history at the annual meeting of the Society for the History of Technology in Lisbon, Portugal. ...

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1. Joining Environmental History with Science and Technology Studies: Promises, Challenges, and Contributions

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pp. 1-18

This edited volume is the product of recent dialogue within and between the fields of environmental history and science and technology studies (STS). It is also the outcome of a workshop that examined one piece of this larger intellectual puzzle: how perspectives gleaned from STS might facilitate and ultimately extend the contributions of environmental history. ...

Part 1. Ways of Knowing

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2. The Natural History of Early Northeastern America: An Inexact Science

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pp. 21-36

In 1795 Yale College president Timothy Dwight decided to write a book about New England and surrounding areas. It was a project motivated by two recuperative goals. The first was personal: his job was too sedentary, and he needed more exercise. To counteract these defects, he devoted vacations to exploring the region on horseback, and his health was “preserved.” ...

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3. Farming and Not Knowing: Agnotology Meets Environmental History

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pp. 37-50

In the modern world, ignorance is first and foremost a bad thing. With the omnipresent buzz about “knowledge societies,” there is a broad consensus that information is a key resource of modern societies, giving an inherently negative ring to the absence of knowledge. Historians of science have been particularly hesitant to challenge this rationale. ...

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4. Environmentalists on Both Sides: Enactments in the California Rigs-to-Reefs Debate

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pp. 51-68

In his oral presentation in June 2010 of a report commissioned by the California Ocean Science Trust, Brock Bernstein highlighted a conundrum facing Californians interested in establishing a policy for the decommissioning of obsolete offshore oil and gas production platforms: not only did the individual characteristics of each platform affect which disposal option was most favorable, ...

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5. The Backbone of Everyday Environmentalism: Cultural Scripting and Technological Systems

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pp. 69-84

The iconic face of Norwegian recycling is a small round hole in the wall. More than a billion beverage containers pass through this hole every year, bringing vast amounts of glass, aluminum, and plastic back into the recycling loop. Bottles and cans are made from raw material and are then sold— or leased—to bottlers, ...

Part II. Constructions of Environmental Expertise

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6. The Soil Doctor: Hugh Hammond Bennett, Soil Conservation, and the Search for a Democratic Science

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pp. 87-102

Bennett clearly held that science must be socially responsible, a servant to the public interest broadly construed. Yet even if “science” could produce solutions to seemingly intractable problems such as erosion—and Bennett was sure it could, claiming that “the soil erosion problem can be conquered. ...

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7. Communicating Knowledge: The Swedish Mercury Group and Vernacular Science, 1965--1972

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pp. 103-117

According to its members, Carl-Gustaf Rosén’s editorial in the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet officially marks the formal creation of a rather informal and unofficial group of scientists who immersed themselves in the early science and politics of mercury pollution in Sweden and challenged the traditional patterns of social and environmental inquiry.1 ...

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8. Signals in the Forest: Cultural Boundaries of Sciencein Białowieża, Poland

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pp. 118-132

There are multiple ways to know nature, particularly nature that is forested and “wild.” But which experts do people trust when those experts speak about nature, about the ontology of the forest? Which compositions of plants and animals belong there? And why might it matter to scholars of science technology studies and environmental history ...

Part III. Networks, Mobilities, and Boundaries

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9. The Production and Circulation of Standardized Karakul Sheep and Frontier Settlement in the Empires of Hitler, Mussolini, and Salazar

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pp. 135-150

In May 1944 Heinrich Himmler wrote to the SS Brigadenführer Körner urging him to take charge of a karakul sheep flock recently arrived at the SS-Truppenübungsplatz Böhmen, a vast Waffen-SS training area located in the territory of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.1 ...

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10. Trading Spaces: Transferring Energy and Organizing Power in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Grain Trade

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pp. 151-163

A shared commitment to uncovering the complicated process of recursive feedback is the best place to look for overlap between science and technology studies (STS) and environmental history.1 This chapter centers the process of nature-human feedback on the concepts of energy and power. ...

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11. Situated yet Mobile: Examining the Environmental History of Arctic Ecological Science

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pp. 164-178

For centuries the Arctic has captured scientists’ attention. Features found nowhere else—polar bears, tundra, permafrost, months-long days and nights—underscore its distinctive nature. These phenomena have long attracted and challenged scientists, as have the region’s extreme conditions, remoteness, and reputation as pristine wilderness.1 ...

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12. White Mountain Apache Boundary-Work as an Instrument of Ecopolitical Liberation and Landscape Change

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pp. 179-194

In 1960 D’Arcy McNickle—the famous Salish scholar, activist, and writer—predicted that American Indians will “probably use the white man’s technical skills for Indian purposes” and that “Indians are going to remain Indian . . . a way of looking at things and a way of acting which will be original, which will be a compound of these different influences.”1 ...

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13. NEOecology: The Solar System’s Emerging Environmental History and Politics

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pp. 195-211

For two decades, scholars concerned with perceptions of the global environment have examined how remote sensing technologies serve as social tools. They call attention to the scientific and political uses of satellite and astronautical views of Earth from orbit, asking how these downward views open up new ways to spatialize forms of governance,1 ...

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Epilogue: Preservation in the Age of Entanglement: STS and the History of Future Urban Nature

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pp. 212-224

Preservation and conservation are standard tropes of environmental history, nowadays often cited as icons of the field’s backward past rather than its bright future. In this chapter I argue that, on the contrary, there is currently a major transformation regarding how we understand the social-ecological processes of protecting nature ...


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pp. 225-276

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pp. 277-280

Kevin C. Armitage is associate professor at Miami University of Ohio, where he teaches interdisciplinary studies and environmental history. He is the author of The Nature Study Movement: The Forgotten Popularizer of America’s Conservation Ethic (University Press of Kansas, 2009). ...


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pp. 281-292

Back Cover

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p. 306-306

E-ISBN-13: 9780822978725
E-ISBN-10: 0822978725
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822962427
Print-ISBN-10: 082296242X

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 6 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Human ecology -- History
  • Nature -- Effect of human beings on.
  • Environmental sciences -- Study and teaching.
  • Science -- Study and teaching.
  • Technology -- Study and teaching.
  • Interdisciplinary approach in education.
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