With the arrival of European explorers and settlers during the seventeenth century, Native American ways of life and the environment itself underwent radical alterations as human relationships to the land and ways of thinking about nature all changed. This colonial ecological revolution held sway until the nineteenth century, when New England's industrial production brought on a capitalist revolution that again remade the ecology, economy, and conceptions of nature in the region. In Ecological Revolutions, Carolyn Merchant analyzes these two major transformations in the New England environment between 1600 and 1860.
In a preface to the second edition, Merchant introduces new ideas about narrating environmental change based on gender and the dialectics of transformation, while the revised epilogue situates New England in the context of twenty-first-century globalization and climate change. Merchant argues that past ways of relating to the land could become an inspiration for renewing resources and achieving sustainability in the future.
Carolyn Merchant is professor of environmental history, philosophy, and ethics at the University of California, Berkeley. She is author of The Death of Nature, Reinventing Eden, and several other books on environmental history. She is a past president of the American Society for Environmental History and a recipient of the societys distinguished scholar award.
"A fresh approach to American environmental history [...] Merchant's work makes a significant contribution not only in enriching the field but also in stimulating further work."
– The Journal of American History
"Merchant has the gift of being able to make plain dirt interesting."
– American Historical Review
"[This book's] scholarship, style and quality of argument should give it a place on the shelves of any investigator of the environment."
– International Journal of Environmental Studies
"A meticulous analysis [...] Merchant presents a fine synthesis of early source materials and recent historical scholarship in a closely argued interpretive framework."
– Gender and History
"Merchant's search for a usable past recovers plenty of non-patriarchal, nature venerating, animistic, self-sufficient, communalist alternatives in New England's history [...] Ecological Revolutions is a firm indication of the increasing scope and ambition of environmental history as a second generation of practitioners emerges."
– Journal of American Studies
"Studying ecological transformations, Merchant includes fascinating analyses of the cultures that corresponded to them [...] [Her] innovative theoretical approach and her political vision make a substantial contribution to the field."
– American Quarterly