The Problem of Nature

The Problem of Nature : Environment and Culture in Historical Perspective

3.71 (21 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Expected delivery to the United States in 8-13 business days.


Not ordering to the United States? Click here.

Description

This book considers how nature - in both its biological and environmental manifestations - has been invoked as a dynamic force in human history. It shows how historians, philosophers, geographers, anthropologists and scientists have used ideas of nature to explain the evolution of cultures, to understand cultural difference, and to justify or condemn colonization, slavery and racial superiority. It examines the central part that ideas of environmental and biological determinism have played in theory, and describes how these ideas have served in different ways at different times as instruments of authority, identity and defiance. The book shows how powerful and problematic the invocation of nature can be. The Problem of Nature covers a whole cycle of environmental history and its interpretation, from the Black Death in the fourteenth century, the first European voyages of discovery and the opening of the American frontier through to the imperialism of the nineteenth century and the example of India under colonial rule. David Arnold shows how both the natural environment and ideas about nature have changed radically over the last five centuries.
The author describes the profound influence that historical and social theory and the biological sciences have had upon each other. He shows how the outcomes of their interaction not only informed and shaped the European impact upon the world and on itself, but how crucial they are to American conceptions of the society and history of the United States. He provides provocative answers to the questions of what role the environment should have in the conceptualization of time and place; and of how far societies and their histories can be understood from the perspectives of natural and biological sciences.
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 208 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 12mm | 305g
  • Blackwell Publishers
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 063119021X
  • 9780631190219
  • 2,006,992

Back cover copy

This book considers how nature - in both its biological and environmental manifestations - has been invoked as a dynamic force in human history. It shows how historians, philosophers, geographers, anthropologists and scientists have used ideas of nature to explain the evolution of cultures, to understand cultural difference, and to justify or condemn colonization, slavery and racial superiority. It examines the central part that ideas of environmental and biological determinism have played in theory, and describes how these ideas have served in different ways at different times as instruments of authority, identity and defiance. The book shows how powerful and problematic the invocation of nature can be.

The Problem of Nature covers a whole cycle of environmental history and its interpretation, from the Black Death in the fourteenth century, the first European voyages of discovery and the opening of the American frontier through to the imperialism of the nineteenth century and the example of India under colonial rule. David Arnold shows how both the natural environment and ideas about nature have changed radically over the last five centuries.

The author describes the profound influence that historical and social theory and the biological sciences have had upon each other. He shows how the outcomes of their interaction not only informed and shaped the European impact upon the world and on itself, but how crucial they are to American conceptions of the society and history of the United States. He provides provocative answers to the questions of what role the environment should have in the conceptualization of time and place; and of how far societies and their histories can be understood from the perspectives of natural and biological sciences.
show more

Table of contents

Foreword. 1. Introduction. 2. The Place of Nature. 3. Reappraising Nature. 4. Environment as Catastrophe. 5. Crossing Biological Boundaries. 6. The Ecological Frontier. 7. The Environmental Revolution. 8. Inventing Tropicality. 9. Colonizing Nature. Conclusion. Guide to Further Reading. Index.
show more

About David Arnold

David Arnold is Professor of South Asian History at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. His previous books include Famine: Social Crisis and Historical Change and Colonizing the Body: State Medicine and Epidemic Disease in Nineteenth Century India.
show more

Rating details

21 ratings
3.71 out of 5 stars
5 29% (6)
4 24% (5)
3 38% (8)
2 10% (2)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X