344 pages, 20 illustrations
19th-century British imperial expansion dramatically shaped today's globalised world. Imperialism encouraged mass migrations of people, shifting flora, fauna and commodities around the world and led to a series of radical environmental changes never before experienced in history. Eco-Cultural Networks and the British Empire explores how these networks shaped ecosystems, cultures and societies throughout the British Empire and how they were themselves transformed by local and regional conditions.
This multi-authored volume begins with a rigorous theoretical analysis of the categories of 'empire' and 'imperialism'. Its chapters, written by leading scholars in the field, draw methodologically from recent studies in environmental history, post-colonial theory and the history of science. Together, these perspectives provide a comprehensive historical understanding of how the British Empire reshaped the globe during the 19th and 20th centuries. Eco-Cultural Networks and the British Empire will be an important addition to the literature on British imperialism and global ecological change.
"This volume is a significant contribution to the [field] [...] [A]n unusually well-edited anthology and an excellent and engaging read."
– Environmental History
"The instant 'global moment' has a history. At our present time of global environmental thinking, it is timely to pay attention to the history of how ecological ideas travelled through imperial networks around the world in the past. These eminent historians together present an exciting theoretical framework and a wealth of nuanced stories about how imperialism shaped the natural world, and Nature responded."
– Libby Robin, Professor of Environmental History, Australian National University and co-editor of The Future of Nature and Ecology and Empire
"The sun never set on the British Empire, nor did environmental change ever cease. This volume shows how local forces and imperial networks joined to alter ecologies, economies, cultures, and societies from the 1840s to the 1940s everywhere from Canada to New Zealand to Ceylon to South Africa. With essays on everything from climate and commodities to birds and urban beasts – and much else besides – this book is a most welcome addition to the field now taking shape at the junction of environmental and imperial history."
– John R. McNeill, Professor of History, Georgetown University, USA
"This diverse collection of essays from around the globe provides fascinating and stimulating perspectives on the reciprocal webs of empire. In linking diverse regions such as China, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, the authors combine their innovative research with clear writing. Their unravelling of complex transnational and trans-colonial eco-cultural networks deserves close attention from all who are interested in understanding more fully how the kaleidoscopic imperial exchange of commodities and environmental ideas shaped our world."
– Jane Carruthers, Professor Emeritus of History, University of South Africa
Foreword John M. MacKenzie
Part I - Framing Imperial and Regional Networks of Nature
1. Eco-Cultural Networks in the British Empire, 1860-1940 James Beattie (University of Waikato, New Zealand), Edward Melillo (Amherst College, USA), Emily O'Gorman (Macquarie University, Australia)
2. Climate, Empire and Environment Georgina Endfield (University of Nottingham, England) and Sam Randalls (University College, London, England)
3. The Chinese State and Agriculture in an Age of Global Empires, 1880-1949 Joseph Lawson (Newcastle University, England)
4. Empire in a Cup: Imagining Colonial Geographies Through British Tea Consumption Edward Melillo
5. Africa, Europe and the Birds Between Them Nancy Jacobs (Brown University, USA)
Part II - Local Cultural Networks of Exchange
6. Peradeniya and the plantation economy in Ceylon Eugenia Herbert (Mount Holyoke College, USA)
7. Eco-cultural networks in southern China and colonial New Zealand, 1860s-1910s James Beattie
8. Colonial Cultures of Hunting Kate Hunter (Victoria University, New Zealand)
9. Game of Empires: Hunting in Treaty-Port China Robert Peckham (University of Hong Kong)
10. Experiments, Local Environments, and Networks in Rice farming in South-Eastern Australia, 1900-1945 Emily O'Gorman
11. Animals and Urban Environments: Managing Domestic Animals in Nineteenth-Century Winnipeg Sean Kheraj (York University, Canada)
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James Beattie is Senior Lecturer at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. He is the author of Empire and Environmental Anxiety (2011) and a founding co-editor of the journal International Review of Environmental History.
Edward Melillo is Assistant Professor at Amherst College, USA. He teaches courses on global environmental history and is the author of Strangers on Familiar Soil.
Emily O'Gorman is an environmental and cultural historian in the Department of Environment and Geography at Macquarie University, Australia. She has published in a range of journals and is the author of Flood Country: An Environmental History of the Murray-Darling Basin (2012). She is an Associate Editor of the journal Environmental Humanities.