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Covering European history from the invention of the printing press to the French Revolution, the third edition of this best-selling textbook is thoroughly updated with new scholarship and an emphasis on environmental history, travel and migration, race and cultural blending, and the circulation of goods and knowledge. Summaries, timelines, maps, illustrations, and discussion questions illuminate the narrative and support the student. Enhanced online content and sections on sources and methodology give students the tools they need to study early modern European history. Leading historian Merry Wiesner-Hanks skillfully balances breadth and depth of coverage to create a strong narrative, paying particular attention to the global context of European developments. She integrates discussion of gender, class, regional, and ethnic differences across the entirety of Europe and its overseas colonies as well as the economic, political, religious, and cultural history of the period.
Since 1788 settler law has provided a means to either prevent or progress certain forms of environmental change, according to the values and needs of the settler state. These exploitative interests of the settler state were in sharp contrast to the approach of First Nations law, of caring for country, as reflected in the ancient and continuing culture of Indigenous peoples. This chapter examines the shifting nature and focus of environmental law from the exploitative pioneering phase of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the national development and wise use of resources that followed Federation, and concludes with the rise of modern environmentalism from the 1960s. The statutes and cases examined in this chapter range from the free selection and public health acts of the colonial period, to the more recent Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (Cth) and Telstra Corporation v Hornsby Shire Council (2006). The historical record suggests a reactionary pattern of environmental exploitation giving rise to settler environmental anxieties that stimulate legislative intervention. Despite the promise of the wave of environmental legislation of the 1970s and 1980s, Australia’s State, Territory and Federal environmental laws have proven to be relatively weak in restraining this reckless pattern of political expediency, developmentalism and short-sightedness.
From the late-1200s to the mid-1400s, the river valleys of Central Tibet experienced both droughts and political upheavals. This combination of inclement weather and administrative dysfunction led to a series of famines. Although the famines were noted at the time, they were later forgotten in Tibetan narratives, and this is the first time that they are the subject of historical study. In this article we analyse the historical narratives of famine – found in biographies, histories and poems – and compare them with the region's paleoclimatic records, focusing particularly on changes in temperature and precipitation. We begin by discussing the famines’ climatic and political causes and their relationship to broader South and East Asian climatic- and famine-related events. We then outline the Tibetan religious, societal and government responses to these events. These responses include the community's initial reactions, and the multiple magical and managerial strategies they eventually developed to stave off famines.
The paper explores the transformation of environmental activist John Sinclair, OA, from a conservative member of the Country Party, through a position of cautious conservationism, to preeminence as a leading environmentalist with some very significant achievements. This paper aims to show some correlations between his work and ideas and major strands of environmental education research. His allegiance to K’gari (Fraser Island) and the way in which he was able to learn from the traditional custodians, the Butchulla people, and other leading environmentalists is described in this paper through his own memoir writing and the viewpoints of informants interviewed by the author. John Sinclair’s profound connection with K’gari, how it was formed and sustained, and its historical and environmental consequences make a remarkable story of a modern citizen turned activist. The development of John Sinclair’s ideas and practice show interesting parallels with the development of both environmental activism and environmental education in Australia. The story has importance in a range of areas connected with environmental stewardship and environmental education.
The Introduction to Earthopolis: A Biography of Our Urban Planet outlines large themes in the 6,000-year story of how cities gave humans the power to dominate Earth. Our Urban Planet is at once a plural and a singular phenomenon. Its diversity reflects the many birthplaces and birthdates of cities on six continents over six millennia, yet it has become a connected city-enabled habitat of a single species on a single planet. Cities – compact built spaces that rely on many other, dispersed ones – allowed us to harvest enough energy from the Sun and Earth to create the political communities, institutions, wealth, and ideas we needed to act on a global scale, to build an Earth-encrusting habitat, to impact all other parts of our planet’s biosphere, and to face the consequences. The life of Earthopolis exists in space and time. As our urban harvests of natural energy transformed throughout global urban history, from river valleys to the world ocean, and then to hydrocarbon, the geographic extent of our Urban Planet’s four defining realms – of human action, habitat, impact, and consequence – expanded and retreated across Earth. Now our Urban Planet puts us in perilous command of our host planet’s entire halo of life.
Chapter 9 of Earthopolis: A Biography of Our Urban Planet explores cities’ role as creators and creations of the first world religions, of new “scientific” knowledge of the Earth, including its cities, and a global consumer culture based on goods sourced from urban hinterlands that spanned all continents for the first time. It also explores the expanding consequences of the earliest years of Earthopolis as a truly planetary Urban Planet. These included the first global pandemics of disease and the expansion of human destruction of the habitats of other life forms, including those of the World Oceans so crucial to the period’s expansion of urban-enabled human actions, habitats, and impacts.
Taking up Lynn White, Jr.’s argument that Christianity is largely responsible for contemporary ecological crises, this chapter develops an environmental historical reading of the Christian just war tradition’s transition from its late medieval into its early modern forms. That reading reveals not only the flaws in White’s argument but the many ways that the nonhuman natural world was understood by late medieval just war thinkers, including as resource, brake, enemy, and collection of signs. Attending to the environmental conditions and human interactions with the nonhuman natural world that shaped late medieval Europe and gave rise to early modern projects of colonialization and conquest helps to clarify the range of forces at work in shaping just war thinking and modernity. Among the implications of an environmental historical reading of the history of Christian just war, thinking is not only a recognition of the ways that the natural and the political interact but the need for a richer vocabulary to express those interactions in a time of growing climate-shaped violence.
The conclusion examines comparative images of mountains in European atlases, particularly those of Heinrich Berghaus. This allows for a reprise of the key arguments by showing how remaking the Himalaya as globally commensurable necessarily meant erasing scientific uncertainties, failures of practice and dependence on indigenous expertise and labour. These are linked to broader issues in the histories of science, empire and geography to expose the assumptions that underlay the making of allegedly universal categories. The conclusion then briefly considers the trajectory of scientific practice in the Himalaya later in the nineteenth century. Ultimately, it argues that the comparison of uplands was central to the process of ‘othering’ that confirmed the mountains as the margins. Whether in applying horizontal divisions of latitude to vertical changes in vegetation or delineating ‘normal’ bodily reactions to the atmosphere, the lowlands always remained the point of reference. As a result, the conclusion argues that the notion of ‘the global’ itself needs to be understood as a powerful tool of empire, and calls for innovative new approaches to global history and the history of science.
In this volume, Mark Douglas presents an environmental history of the Christian just war tradition. Focusing on the transition from its late medieval into its early modern form, he explores the role the tradition has played in conditioning modernity and generating modernity's blindness to interactions between 'the natural' and 'the political.' Douglas criticizes problematic myths that have driven conventional narratives about the history of the tradition and suggests a revised approach that better accounts for the evolution of that tradition through time. Along the way, he provides new interpretations of works by Francisco de Vitoria and Hugo Grotius, and, provocatively, the Constitution of the United States of America. Sitting at the intersection of just war thinking, environmental history, and theological ethics, Douglas's book serves as a timely guide for responses to wars in a warming world as they increasingly revolve around the flashpoints of religion, resources, and refugees.
How does the Anthropocene change human stories? In a word, drastically. Many people don't want our altered planet to alter their stories. This group, in the spirit of "anything goes," ignores or attacks the science and sometimes the scientists as well. But more and more, writers, social scientists, and humanistic scholars are beginning to engage seriously with Anthropocene science and its radical vision. This engagement results in two new types of narrative. The first kind is the singular collective story of humans from our ancestral species moving out of Africa through all our evolutionary permutations until we became a global force, an Earth System agent, in the mid-twentieth century. The other way of telling human stories in response to Anthropocene science is to acknowledge our species as an Earth System agent, but to point to the many textured, contingent, and small-scale human stories. Some of these are congruent with the overall global narrative; others point to alternatives. This essay takes the reader on a tour of how humanists and social scientists are responding to the Anthropocene through three kinds of stories: those that deny scientific evidence; those highlighting humanity as a collective planetary force, and those focusing on diverse alternative histories within planetary limits.
Societal debates about climate change have rekindled interest in environmental history approaches. This review article considers three recent books in African environmental history, on the Kruger National Park, the East African Groundnut Scheme, and on infrastructure in postcolonial Dar es Salaam. Why is it important to study the empire–environment nexus? How do African experiences relate to discussions on the Anthropocene? Taking environmental dynamics into account enriches understandings of social, political, and cultural relationships and sheds light on imperialism and its complex legacies. This article makes the case for the importance of environmental history as a category of analysis, encouraging other scholars to think “with” the environment in broader debates concerning power, identity, and social change.
The contemporary world seems obsessed with stuff: how to get it, what to do with it, how to get rid of it. Although historians long assumed that rising consumption began with industrialization, we now know that the pace of consumption accelerated in the early modern world well before the age of mass production. In seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe, women and men began to accumulate more clothing, carry more personal accessories, fill their households with more furnishings, and wear, smoke, snort, eat, and drink prodigious quantities of colonial products. Although scholars debate whether to call this growth in consumption “revolutionary” or “evolutionary,” they agree that is was transformational. It changed how people looked, ate, socialized, and thought, giving rise to debates about moral progress and ushering in new forms of revolutionary political activism. This book has offered a new interpretation of the consumer revolution by incorporating questions of empire, political economy, global trade, slavery, material culture, philosophy, politics, and revolution. One important theme that remains to be explored, however, is the relationship between consumption and the environment. Any solution to the climate crisis will require a revolution in how humans think about – and practice – consumption. Although today nothing seems more natural than relentless consumption, it, too, has a history. Heightening awareness of the fact that consumption in the contemporary world is a historical construct, an outcome of contingent historical factors, is an important first step toward resolving the climate crisis. For any invention of human society can be reinvented.
This chapter starts by asking ‘What is in a Thing?’ It discusses the material presence of the past and its rediscovery, for example, in the history of commodities. Material culture history, it argues, has been critical of the linguistic turn but is still building on insights from it. It proposes that objects provide an ‘order of things’ (Michel Foucault), which is in need of examination and contextualisation. At the same time material culture history has also been in the vanguard of decentring human agency and problematising the ‘Anthropocene’. Using non-representational theory, it has been arguing in favour of recognising the agency of things and decentring human agency in history. Material culture history has also been pointing to the longevity of material objects, providing them with often malleable and multiple meanings. It is striking how prominent everyday objects are in material culture histories. Through them individual identities are often related to larger collective identities. Historians of material culture have contributed to raising our awareness of the link between objects and collective identity formation. Examples from national history, environmental history, first nations hsitory, the history of ethnic minorities, colonial history, cultural history, design history, architectural history, regional history, class history, gender history and religious history are all discussed in oder to underline the potential of material culture history to lead to greater self-reflexivity among historians about their role in constructing forms of collective identity and to deconstruct these identities.
The 17th century was a period of transition in world history. It was marked globally by social movements emerging in response to widespread drought, famine, disease, warfare, and dislocation linked to climate change. Historians have yet to situate Safavid Iran (1501–1722) within the “General Crisis.” This article, coauthored by an environmental historian and a climate scientist, revisits primary sources and incorporates tree-ring evidence to argue that an ecological crisis beginning in the late 17th century contributed to the collapse of the imperial ecology of the Safavid Empire. A declining resource base and demographic decline conditioned the unraveling of imperial networks and the empire's eventual fall to a small band of Afghan raiders in 1722. Ultimately, this article makes a case for the connectedness of Iran to broader global environmental trends in this period, with local circumstances and human agency shaping a period of acute environmental crisis in Iran.
This chapter unpacks Garrett Hardin's 1968 landmark article "The Tragedy of the Commons" by exploring the controversial views of its author and the explosive social context from which it emerged. More than an essay about resource management in the abstract, Hardin's admitted main point in "The Tragedy of the Commons," often excerpted out of many anthologies and reprints, is at its core an argument for population control. Hardin’s views veered from the mainstream and openly incorporated racist, xenophobic, and anti-immigrant ideas. Given this, it seems quite surprising today that the article was received so well, both popularly and in academic circles. But in reality, Hardin's success came because of his focus on population – not in spite of it. The article came at just the right time to catch on: precisely when the environmental movement neared its crest and just before his most controversial idea – population control – was about to enter the public realm as a serious matter of debate.
On Tuesday, March 24, 1579, a Spanish magistrate arrived at the lakeshore. Acting on an order from the viceroy, he set out in a canoe for the small island community of Santa María Magdalena Michcalco, located near the great causeway dividing Lakes Xochimilco and Chalco. The short journey took him from the deeper pool at the dock facilities into a maze of narrow canals. The waterways traversed dozens of rectangular artificial gardens that rose above the lake’s shallow waters. Local, indigenous farmers cultivated these horticultural plots all year round, and if not preparing maize for one of their half dozen annual harvests, they would have been tending to their crops of chiles, squash, tomatoes, and other vegetables. Stretching into the distance with the many gardens were water willows whose root systems, partially visible from the canoe, held together the edges of the aquatic gardens.
This article describes the intensification process of agriculture and its environmental limits regarding soil fertility in the rural community of Fonsagrada, in the inner region of Galicia in northwestern Spain. It addresses changes in land use, crops, and agricultural productivity between 1750 and 1890, framed within the theory of social metabolism and based on the method of nutrient balances. That technique measures nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium flows across the landscape within a given agro-ecosystem to assess its biophysical functioning and to detect environmental constraints related to management. The intensification of cropland resulted in net losses of potassium in outlying rough grazing land and hay meadows that served as the sources of cropland nutrients. Agricultural intensification was possible due to the close stabling of livestock, which allowed for more manure availability. Doing so, however, deprived pastureland of nutrient recover through manure deposition, which created a metabolic rift in the agro-ecosystem.
By exploring the uniquely dense urban network of the Low Countries, Janna Coomans debunks the myth of medieval cities as apathetic towards filth and disease. Based on new archival research and adopting a bio-political and spatial-material approach, Coomans traces how cities developed a broad range of practices to protect themselves and fight disease. Urban societies negotiated challenges to their collective health in the face of social, political and environmental change, transforming ideas on civic duties and the common good. Tasks were divided among different groups, including town governments, neighbours and guilds, and affected a wide range of areas, from water, fire and food, to pigs, prostitutes and plague. By studying these efforts in the round, Coomans offers new comparative insights and bolsters our understanding of the importance of population health and the physical world - infrastructures, flora and fauna - in governing medieval cities.
Our current ecological crises compel us not only to understand how contemporary media shapes our conceptions of human relationships with the environment, but also to examine the historical genealogies of such perspectives. Written during the onset of the Little Ice Age in Britain, Middle English romances provide a fascinating window into the worldviews of popular vernacular literature (and its audiences) at the close of the Middle Ages. Andrew M. Richmond shows how literary conventions of romances shaped and were in turn influenced by contemporary perspectives on the natural world. These popular texts also reveal widespread concern regarding the damaging effects of human actions and climate change. The natural world was a constant presence in the writing, thoughts, and lives of the audiences and authors of medieval English romance – and these close readings reveal that our environmental concerns go back further in our history and culture than we think.