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

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Date
1996
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Editions de I'Orstom
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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Keywords
ecology--history
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