Jump to content

Environmental History


Recommended Posts

Hey guys! I apologize if this is a repeated topic, I tried to check the pages to make sure there wasn't a recent thread dedicated to Environmental History. I was hoping to maybe open up a discussion on the various Environmental History programs, which scholars are doing interesting work, which topics are up and coming and which are getting a bit stale! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/17/2017 at 10:49 PM, ba1dp said:

Thanks a lot! Im interested in this topic, but not know much information about it. :(

I have been looking into environmental history.  Granted this has only been over the last few months, and I have focused on the early modern world, so take whatever I say with a healthy dose of salt.

Environmental history is a decidedly wide umbrella. It includes other history topics like agricultural history, urban history (cities are built environments), historical demographics, and can cross over with any form of material history. It also can touch on less tangible history like intellectual (particularly scientific and medical) or religious when discussing human thoughts about, and understanding of, the environment. Climate history is also housed under the same term.  It also draws on other disciplines, naturally the earth sciences, but also anthropology.  It flourishes most where written souses are the fewest and any additional evidence is valued.

One thing that the field has had trouble with is the charge of determinism; that is to say that environment is destiny.  I think that that debate is fairly stale though, and most scholars I have read are careful to couch arguments to avoid this claim.

There is this list of programs if you are interested.

Alfred Crosby's Colombian Exchange is sort of a foundational text, though for my money, I prefer his Ecological Imperialism.

A Companion to Global Environmental History edited by J.R. McNeill and Erin Stewart Mauldin is a collection of essays on different temporal and geographic subjects by different authors.  Its a mile wide and an inch deep, but as an introduction to the field that is perfect.

Otherwise here is a short bibliography of the books I liked most so far that are solidly in the topic.  There are a number of scholarly journals dedicated to the topic too. It would be great if others could add to a list.

Climate Change and the Course of Global History: A Rough Journey John L Brooke

Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century by Geoffrey Parker

Pan's Travail J. Donald Hughes

Plagues and Peoples William McNeil

The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History 1300-1850 and The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations (n.b. that is about the medieval era) both by Brian Fagan

The Unending Frontier: an Environmental History of the Early Modern World By John F Richards


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use