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Beyond Sovereign Territory

The Space of Ecopolitics

Thom Kuehls

How should we think about politics in a world where ecological problems-from the deforestation of the Amazon to acid rain-transcend national boundaries? This is the timely and important question addressed by Thom Kuehls in Beyond Sovereign Territory. Contending that the sovereign territorial state is not adequate to contain or describe the boundaries of ecopolitics, the author reorients our thinking about government, nature, and politics.

Kuehls argues that changes in technology and the scope of governmental aims have rendered conventional ecological and internationalist aims anachronistic-and ultimately ineffective-in the face of impending environmental collapse. He questions the process by which land is transformed into an object of sovereignty-into “territory”-demonstrating how representations of political space that focus on territorial sovereignty fail to come to terms with much of what is involved in ecopolitics.

Engaging social and political theory texts from such diverse thinkers as Michel Foucault, Donna Haraway, Friedrich Nietzsche, Gilles Deleuze, and Félix Guattari, Kuehls moves through the fields of ecopolitical thought and international relations on his way to articulating an ecological politics that exceeds the space of the sovereign territorial state. Throughout, Beyond Sovereign Territory juxtaposes traditional conceptualizations of nature with unorthodox-and enlightening-alternatives. Kuehls articulates a governing “eco-ethic,” what he calls an “ethics of care,” one that insists on the centrality of ethics to the space in which ecopolitics exists. Ultimately, Kuehls critiques an orientation that privileges a certain utilitarian relationship between humans and nonhuman nature, one in which the earth is largely interpreted as given to humans. Deeply humanistic and challenging conventional wisdom, Beyond Sovereign Territory will be of interest to readers of environmental politics, geography, international politics, and political theory.

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Beyond Sun and Sand

Caribbean Environmentalisms

Edited by Sherrie L. Baver and Barbara Deutsch Lynch

Filtered through the lens of the North American and European media, the Caribbean appears to be a series of idyllic landscapes-sanctuaries designed for sailing, diving, and basking in the sun on endless white sandy beaches. Conservation literature paints a similarly enticing portrait, describing the region as a habitat for endangered coral reefs and their denizens, parrots, butterflies, turtles, snails, and a myriad of plant species.

In both versions, the image of the exotic landscape overshadows the rich island cultures that are both linguistically and politically diverse, but trapped in a global economy that offers few options for development. Popular depictions also overlook the reality that the region is fraught with environmental problems, including water and air pollution, solid waste mismanagement, destruction of ecosystems, deforestation, and the transition from agriculture to ranching.

Bringing together ten essays by social scientists and activists, Beyond Sun and Sand provides the most comprehensive exploration to date of the range of environmental issues facing the region and the social movements that have developed to deal with them. The authors consider the role that global and regional political economies play in this process and provide valuable insight into Caribbean environmentalism. Many of the essays by prominent Caribbean analysts are made available for the first time in English.

 

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Big Bend's Ancient and Modern Past

Bruce A. Glasrud

The Big Bend region of Texas—variously referred to as “El Despoblado” (the uninhabited land), “a land of contrasts,” “Texas’ last frontier,” or simply as part of the Trans-Pecos—enjoys a long, colorful, and eventful history, a history that began before written records were maintained.

With Big Bend’s Ancient and Modern Past, editors Bruce A. Glasrud and Robert J. Mallouf provide a helpful compilation of articles originally published in the Journal of Big Bend Studies, reviewing the unique past of the Big Bend area from the earliest habitation to 1900.

Scholars of the region investigate not only the peoples who have successively inhabited it but also the nature of the environment and the responses to that environment. As the studies in this book demonstrate, the character of the region has, to a great extent, dictated its history.

The study of Big Bend history is also the study of borderlands history. Studying and researching across borders or boundaries, whether national, state, or regional, requires a focus on the factors that often both unite and divide the inhabitants. The dual nature of citizenship, of land holding, of legal procedures and remedies, of education, and of history permeate the lives and livelihoods of past and present residents of the Big Bend.

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Big Ecology

The Emergence of Ecosystem Science

David C. Coleman

In Big Ecology, David C. Coleman documents his historically fruitful ecological collaborations in the early years of studying large ecosystems in the United States. As Coleman explains, the concept of the ecosystem—a local biological community and its interactions with its environment—has given rise to many institutions and research programs, like the National Science Foundation’s program for Long Term Ecological Research. Coleman’s insider account of this important and fascinating trend toward big science takes us from the paradigm of collaborative interdisciplinary research, starting with the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957, through the International Biological Program (IBP) of the late 1960s and early 1970s, to the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) programs of the 1980s.

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Big Marsh

The Story of a Lost Landscape

by Cheri Register

Under the corn and soybean fields of southern Minnesota lies the memory of vast, age-old wetlands, drained away over the last 130 years in the name of agricultural progress. But not everyone saw wetlands as wasteland. Before 1900, Freeborn County’s Big Marsh provided a wealth of resources for the neighboring communities. Families hunted its immense flocks of migrating waterfowl, fished its waters, trapped muskrats and mink, and harvested wood and medicinal plants. As farmland prices rose, however, the value of the land under the water became more attractive to people with capital. While residents fought bitterly, powerful outside investors overrode local opposition and found a way to drain 18,000 acres of wetland at public expense. Author Cheri Register stumbled upon her great-grandfather’s scathing critique of the draining and was intrigued. Following the clues he left, she uncovers the stories of life on the Big Marsh and of the “connivers” who plotted its end: the Minneapolis land developer, his local fixer, an Illinois banker, and the lovelorn local lawyer who did their footwork. The Big Marsh, an environmental history told from a personal point of view, shows the enduring value of wild places and the importance of the fight to preserve them, both then and now.

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The Big Sandy

Carol Crowe-Carraco

The Big Sandy River and its two main tributaries, the Tug and Levisa forks, drain nearly two million mountainous acres in the easternmost part of Kentucky. For generations, the only practical means of transportation and contact with the outside world was the river, and, as The Big Sandy demonstrates, steamboats did much to shape the culture of the region. Carol Crowe-Carraco offers an intriguing and readable account of this region's history from the days of the venturesome Long Hunters of the eighteenth century, through the bitter struggles of the Civil War and its aftermath, up to the 1970s, with their uncertain promise of a new prosperity. The Big Sandy pictures these changes vividly while showing how the turbulent past of the valley lives on in the region's present.

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Big Thicket Plant Ecology

An Introduction, Third Edition

Geraldine Ellis Watson

Originally published in 1979, Geraldine Ellis Watson’s Big Thicket Plant Ecology is now back in print. This updated edition explores the plant biology, ecology, geology, and environmental regions of the Big Thicket National Preserve. After decades of research on the Big Thicket, Watson concluded that the Big Thicket was unique for its biological diversity, due mainly to interactions of geology and climate. A visitor in the Big Thicket could look in four different directions from one spot and view scenes typical of the Appalachians, the Florida Everglades, a southwestern desert, or the pine barrens of the Carolinas. Watson covers the ecological and geological history of the Big Thicket and introduces its plant life, from longleaf pines and tupelo swamps to savannah wetlands and hardwood flats. “This is the work on the plant biology of the Big Thicket.”—Pete A.Y. Gunter, author of The Big Thicket

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Binocular Vision

The Politics of Representation in Birdwatching Field Guides

Spencer Schaffner

From meadows to marshlands, seashores to suburbs, field guides help us identify many of the things we find outdoors: plants, insects, mammals, birds. In these texts, nature is typically represented, both in words and images, as ordered, clean, and untouched by human technology and development. This preoccupation with species identification, however, has produced an increasingly narrow view of nature, a “binocular vision,” that separates the study of individual elements from a range of larger, interconnected environmental issues. In this book, Spencer Schaffner reconsiders this approach to nature study by focusing on how birds are presented in field guides. Starting with popular books from the late nineteenth century and moving ultimately to the electronic guides of the current day, Binocular Vision contextualizes birdwatching field guides historically, culturally, and in terms of a wide range of important environmental issues. Schaffner questions the assumptions found in field guides to tease out their ideological workings. He argues that the sanitized world represented in these guides misleads readers by omitting industrial landscapes and so-called nuisance birds, leaving users of the guides disconnected from environmental degradation and its impact on bird populations. By putting field guides into direct conversation with concerns about species conservation, environmental management, the human alteration of the environment, and the problem of toxic pollution, Binocular Vision is a field guide to field guides that takes a novel perspective on how we think about and interact with the world around us.

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Biodiversity Conservation in Costa Rica

Learning the Lessons in a Seasonal Dry Forest

Gordon W. Frankie

The beautiful tropical dry forest of northwest Costa Rica, with its highly seasonal rainfall and diversely vegetated landscape, is disappearing even more rapidly than Costa Rica's better-known rain forest, primarily because it has been easier to convert to agriculture. This book, based on more than thirty years of study, offers the first comprehensive look at the ecology, biodiversity, and conservation status of this endangered and fragile region. The contributors, from Costa Rica, Britain, Mexico, and the United States, and representing the fields of ecology, environmental education, policy, and the law, examine the major plant and animal groups living in the dry forest and present the first technical evaluation of Costa Rica's conservation efforts.

As they assess the status of their area of specialty in the dry forest, the contributors also look beyond this particular region to show how its plants and animals are ecologically and evolutionarily connected to other geographic areas in Costa Rica and Central America. Their chapters cover topics such as watershed and coastal management, plant phenology, pollination, insects, birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. They also consider the socioeconomic, policy, legal, and political aspects of biodiversity conservation, giving the volume a wide-ranging perspective and making a unique contribution to our knowledge of the tropical dry forest. The book concludes with an important synthesis of the contributors' recommendations on future directions, policies, and actions that will better conserve biodiversity in Costa Rica and other neotropical forests as well.

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Biology and Conservation of North American Tortoises

edited by David C. Rostal, Earl D. McCoy, and Henry R. Mushinsky

Tortoises, those unmistakable turtles, evolved from a lineage that split off from the familiar pond turtles roughly 100 million years ago. Over time, these plant-eating land turtles spread around the world, growing to an enormous size (depending on the species) and living so long that they have become the stuff of legends. By most accounts, they are indeed the longest-lived of the turtles, with good records suggesting individuals may live as long as 180 years (anecdotal records suggest that some reach ages of 200 years or more). Providing the first comprehensive treatment of North America’s tortoises, Biology and Conservation of North American Tortoises brings together leading experts to give an overview of tortoise morphology, taxonomy, systematics, paleontology, physiology, ecology, behavior, reproduction, diet, growth, health, and conservation. The contributors carefully combine their own expertise and observations with results from studies conducted by hundreds of other researchers. The result is a book that belongs in the library of every herpetologist. Contributors Gustavo Aguirre L. Linda J. Allison Matthew J. Aresco Roy C. Averill-Murray Joan E. Berish Kristin H. Berry Dennis M. Bramble K. Kristina Drake Taylor Edwards Todd C. Esque Richard Franz Craig Guyer J. Scott Harrison Sharon M. Hermann J. Howard Hutchison Elliott R. Jacobson Valerie M. Johnson Richard T. Kazmaier Earl D. McCoy Philip A. Medica Robert W. Murphy Henry R. Mushinsky Kenneth E. Nussear Michael P. O’Connor Thomas A. Radzio David C. Rostal Lora L. Smith James R. Spotila Craig B. Stanford C. Richard Tracy Tracey D. Tuberville Michael Tuma Thane Wibbels

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