Environmental History Book List
In Slavery, Agriculture, and Malaria in the Arabian Peninsula, Benjamin Reilly illuminates a previously unstudied phenomenon: the large-scale employment of people of African ancestry as slaves in agricultural oases within the Arabian Peninsula.
Malaria is an infectious disease like no other: it is a dynamic force of nature and Africa’s most deadly and debilitating malady. James C. McCann tells the story of malaria in human, narrative terms and explains the history and ecology of the disease through the science of landscape change. All malaria is local.
Cahora Bassa and Its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965–2007
Cahora Bassa Dam on the Zambezi River, built in the early 1970s during the final years of Portuguese rule, was the last major infrastructure project constructed in Africa during the turbulent era of decolonization. Engineers and hydrologists praised the dam for its technical complexity and the skills required to construct what was then the world’s fifth-largest mega-dam.
Indigenous knowledge has become a catchphrase in global struggles for environmental justice. Yet indigenous knowledges are often viewed, incorrectly, as pure and primordial cultural artifacts. This collection draws from African and North American cases to argue that the forms of knowledge identified as “indigenous” resulted from strategies to control environmental resources during and after colonial encounters.
Environment at the Margins brings literary and environmental studies into a robust interdisciplinary dialogue, challenging dominant ideas about nature, conservation, and development in Africa and exploring alternative narratives offered by writers and environmental thinkers. The essays bring together scholarship in geography, anthropology, and environmental history with the study of African and colonial literatures and with literary modes of analysis.
The landscapes of the Middle East have captured our imaginations throughout history. Images of endless golden dunes, camel caravans, isolated desert oases, and rivers lined with palm trees have often framed written and visual representations of the region. Embedded in these portrayals is the common belief that the environment, in most places, has been deforested and desertified by centuries of misuse.
Through compelling stories and interviews with people who are fighting for environmental justice, Mountains of Injustice contributes to the ongoing debate over how to equitably distribute the long-term environmental costs and consequences of economic development.
The essays collected in Cultivating the Colonies demonstrate how the relationship between colonial power and nature reveals the nature of power. Each essay explores how colonial governments translated ideas about the management of exotic nature and foreign people into practice, and how they literally “got their hands dirty” in the business of empire. The eleven essays include studies of animal husbandry in the Philippines, farming in Indochina, and indigenous medicine in India.
Through the ages, rabies has exemplified the danger of diseases that transfer from wild animals to humans and their domestic stock. In South Africa, rabies has been on the rise since the latter part of the twentieth century despite the availability of postexposure vaccines and regular inoculation campaigns for dogs. In Mad Dogs and Meerkats: A History of Resurgent Rabies in Southern Africa, Karen Brown links the increase of rabies to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Is Italy il bel paese—the beautiful country—where tourists spend their vacations looking for art, history, and scenery? Or is it a land whose beauty has been cursed by humanity’s greed and nature’s cruelty? The answer is largely a matter of narrative and the narrator’s vision of Italy.
During the early 1990s, the ability of dangerous diseases to pass between animals and humans was brought once more to the public consciousness. These concerns continue to raise questions about how livestock diseases have been managed over time and in different social, economic, and political circumstances.
Forests have been at the fault lines of contact between African peasant communities in the Tanzanian coastal hinterland and outsiders for almost two centuries. In recent decades, a global call for biodiversity preservation has been the main challenge to Tanzanians and their forests. Thaddeus Sunseri uses the lens of forest history to explore some of the most profound transformations in Tanzania from the nineteenth century to the present.
The Game of Conservation is a brilliantly crafted and highly readable examination of nature protection around the world. Twentieth-century nature conservation treaties often originated as attempts to regulate the pace of killing rather than as attempts to protect animal habitat.
For better or worse, the view through a car's windshield has redefined how we see the world around us. In some cases, such as the American parkway, the view from the road was the be-all and end-all of the highway; in others, such as the Italian autostrada, the view of a fast, efficient transportation machine celebrating either Fascism or its absence was the goal.
The textile industry was one of the first manufacturing activities to become organized globally, as mechanized production in Europe used cotton from the various colonies. Africa, the least developed of the world’s major regions, is now increasingly engaged in the production of this crop for the global market, and debates about the pros and cons of this trend have intensified.
Many students come to African history with a host of stereotypes that are not always easy to dislodge. One of the most common is that of Africa as safari grounds—as the land of expansive, unpopulated game reserves untouched by civilization and preserved in their original pristine state by the tireless efforts of contemporary conservationists.
Kigezi, a district in southwestern Uganda, is exceptional in many ways. In contrast to many other parts of the colonial world, this district did not adopt cash crops. Soil conservation practices were successfully adopted, and the region maintained a remarkably developed and individualized land market from the early colonial period. Grace Carswell presents a comprehensive study of livelihoods in Kigezi.
Tales of deforestation and desertification in North Africa have been told from the Roman period to the present. Such stories of environmental decline in the Maghreb are still recounted by experts and are widely accepted without question today. International organizations such as the United Nations frequently invoke these inaccurate stories to justify environmental conservation and development projects in the arid and semiarid lands in North Africa and around the Mediterranean basin.
The most striking feature of British colonialism in the twentieth century was the confidence it expressed in the use of science and expertise, especially when joined with the new bureaucratic capacities of the state, to develop natural and human resources of the empire. Triumph of the Expert is a history of British colonial doctrine and its contribution to the emergence of rural development and environmental policies in the late colonial and postcolonial period.
Britain's supremacy in the nineteenth century depended in large part on its vast deposits of coal. This coal not only powered steam engines in factories, ships, and railway locomotives but also warmed homes and cooked food. As coal consumption skyrocketed, the air in Britain's cities and towns became filled with ever-greater and denser clouds of smoke.
The Nazis created nature preserves, championed sustainable forestry, curbed air pollution, and designed the autobahn highway network as a way of bringing Germans closer to nature. How Green Were the Nazis?: Nature, Environment, and Nation in the Third Reich is the first book to examine the Third Reich's environmental policies and to offer an in-depth exploration of the intersections between brown ideologies and green practices.
Once the grain basket for South Africa, much of Lesotho has become a scarred and degraded landscape. The nation’s spectacular erosion and gullying have concerned environmentalists and conservationists for more than half a century. In Imperial Gullies: Soil Erosion and Conservation in Lesotho, Kate B. Showers documents the truth behind this devastation. Showers reconstructs the history of the landscape, beginning with a history of the soil.
For more than a century, the world has recognized the extraordinary biological diversity of the forests of Tanzania’s Usambara Mountains. As international attention has focused on forest conservation, farmers, foresters, biologists, and the Tanzanian state have realized that only complex negotiations will save these treasured, but rapidly disappearing, landscapes.
Blue jeans, MTV, Coca-Cola, and… ecology? We don't often think of conservation sciences as a U.S. export, but in the second half of the twentieth century an astounding array of scientists and ideas flowed out from the United States into the world, preaching the gospel of conservation-oriented ecology.
Colonial Baringo was largely unnoticed until drought and localized famine in the mid-1920s led to claims that its crisis was brought on by overcrowding and livestock mismanagement. In response to the alarm over erosion, the state embarked on a program for rehabilitation, conservation, and development.
The explosion of interest in African environmental history has stimulated research and writing on a wide range of issues facing many African nations. This collection represents some of the finest studies to date. The general topics include African environmental ideas and practices; colonial science, the state and African responses; and settlers and Africans' culture and nature.
Environmental history in southern Africa has only recently come into its own as a distinct field of historical inquiry. While natural resources lie at the heart of all environmental history, the field opens the door to a wide range of inquiries, several of which are pioneered in this collection. South Africa's Environmental History offers a series of local and particular studies followed by more general commentary and comparative studies.
This study offers a “social interpretation of environmental process” for the coastal lowlands of southeastern Ghana. The Anlo-Ewe, sometimes hailed as the quintessential sea fishermen of the West African coast, are a previously non-maritime people who developed a maritime tradition. As a fishing community the Anlo have a strong attachment to their land. In the twentieth century coastal erosion has brought about a collapse of the balance between nature and culture.
In 1800, the highlands of Sri Lanka had some of the most biologically diverse primary tropical rainforest ecosystems in the world. By 1900, only a few craggy corners and mountain caps had been spared the fire stick. Highland villagers, through the extension of slash-and-burn agriculture, and British managers, through the creation of plantations—first of coffee, then cinchona, and finally tea—had removed virtually the entire primary forest cover.
A deeper understanding of contemporary environmental problems requires us to know where we come from, and the study of environmental history will help us in that quest. Environmental history, in short, may be described as an attempt to study the interaction between humans and nature in the past. How have human societies affected their environment and vice versa? What does history tell us about ecological change?