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About this book
About this book
Sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose, humans have transported plants and animals to new habitats around the world. Arriving in ever-increasing numbers to American soil, recent invaders have competed with, preyed on, hybridized with, and carried diseases to native species, transforming our ecosystems and creating anxiety among environmentalists and the general public. But is American anxiety over this crisis of ecological identity a recent phenomenon?
Charting shifting attitudes to alien species since the 1850s, Peter Coates brings to light the rich cultural and historical aspects of this story by situating the history of immigrant flora and fauna within the wider context of human immigration. Through an illuminating series of particular invasions, including the English sparrow and the eucalyptus tree, what he finds is that we have always perceived plants and animals in relation to ourselves and the polities to which we belong. Setting the saga of human relations with the environment in the broad context of scientific, social, and cultural history, this thought-provoking book demonstrates how profoundly notions of nationality and debates over race and immigration have shaped American understandings of the natural world.
Acknowledgments 1. Strangers and Natives Knowing Nature through Nationality The Naming of Strangers The Alien Menace: Humanizing Nature and Naturalizing Humans Our Fellow Immigrants Strangers on the Land 2. The Avian Conquest of a Continent Transatlantic Flights Flying Feathers The Stranger Finch There Goes the Neighborhood: Dispossessing the Rightful Tenants of Land and Sky Standing up for Poor Jack The Cockney Cousin The Successful and Exemplary Sparrow 3. Plants, Insects, and Other Strangers to the Soil Floral Menace and Floral Promise Strange Fruits: The Enrichment of Nature Determining Desirability Shutting the Door on Plant Plunderers The Menace of Plant Quarantines A Horticultural Ellis Island The Rediscovery of Native Value 4. Arboreal Immigrants Natural Beauty and Foreign Beauty The Glamor of a Foreign Name The Tree That Grew in Brooklyn (and Nearly Everywhere Else) The Strange Career of the Universal Australian The Tarnished Tree: California's Raging Eucalyptus Controversy Eucalyptus Eulogy: The Natural Value of Heritage Getting Back to (Lost) Nature: Restoring Original California Landscapes of Purity and Intolerance 5. The Nature of Alien Nation The Nature of Fear and the Greening of Hate Wilted Metaphors and Calling Strangers Names Flora and Fauna That Are Here to Stay The Globalization of Nature and the Universal Sparrow The Historian's Contribution Notes / 191 Index / 249
Peter Coates is Reader in American and Environmental History in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Bristol, UK. Among his books is Nature: Western Attitudes Since Ancient Times (UC Press).