Saturday, May 24, 2008

Environmental history

For some time now, I have been following the podcast Exploring Environmental History. In the past days there was yet another installment, about the Flanders Moss, a marsh land (peat bog) in Scotland. I had a bit of a hard time, following the speaker, John Harrison, for he has an accent in his English too unfamiliar to me, but that is just my problem. So go ahead and listen.

I'd like to take this review to raise another point. To ask what is Environmental History altogether. Somehow this is not so easy to pin point and in spite of the expert podcasts, this definition still hasn't made it, even intuitively, to my mind. The best I can say, is the history of how man has dealt with his environment through the ages.

Recently, I discovered a lecture series in Berkeley: ESPM 160AC American Environmental and Cultural History. The starting lectures attempt at addressing this issue. There are numerous examples given. They differ and therefore supplement those of the Exploring Environmental History podcast. But there is also some tentative definition coming up and this is a tad different to what I thought before. Environmental history is taking a specific environment, complete with its inhabitants and their culture as this is part of it, and considers the history of that environment. Like the history of the Flanders Moss. (Incidentally, as far as I could find out, this has nothing to do with the north of Belgium...)

More Environmental History podcast on this blog:
Climate Change in recent history,
Urban Air Pollution,
Apartheid and Environmental History,
Environmental History and South Africa,
Environmental History.

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