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From Natural History to History of Nature: Redefining the Environmental History of India

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Type: Book Chapter
Author: Sangwan, S.
Book Title: 20th Century Sciences: Beyond the Metropolis
Publisher: Editions de I'Orstom
Location: Paris
Page(s): 175-194
Date: 1996
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/5624
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Subject(s): ecology--history
Abstract: "The two observations, one from a metropolitan savant and the other from a colonial 'devotee' of nature confirm that ecological discourse at the centre and colonial periphery descended at a particular historical juncture. They also reiterates that the discourse had its roots in the broad domain of natural history. History of ecology (ecological ideas), as it stands now, is burdened with metropolitan bias with practically no discussion on its agenda in the colonial peripheries. One most concrete example being the (de)construction of natural history tradition on the Indian periphery. While a few consider it as simply a favourite 'mind-relaxing' exercise for men cut-off from home surroundings,o thers read as plain statistical surveys ('stampcollecting') without any reference even to the pressing demands of colonial state. A major shift came with professional historians joining the debate. Making 'colonialism' as the ultimate boundary of a scientific discourse on the periphery, the 'second wave' of scholarship links the data gathering exercise with the 'changing ideologies' of imperialism."

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