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How has Singapore's environment and location in a zone of extraordinary biodiversity influenced the economic, political, social and intellectual history of the island since the early 19th century? What are the antecedents to Singapore's image of itself as a City in a Garden? Grounding the story of Singapore within an understanding of its environment opens the way to an account of the past that is more than a story of trade, immigration and nation building.
Each of the chapters in this volume focusing on topics ranging from tigers and plantations to trade in exotic animals and the greening of the city, and written by botanists, historians, anthropologists, and naturalists examines how humans have interacted with and understood the natural environment on a small island in Southeast Asia over the past 200 years, and conversely how this environment has influenced humans.
Between the chapters are traveller's accounts and primary documents that provide eyewitness descriptions of the events examined in the text. In this regard, Nature Contained: Environmental Histories of Singapore provides new insights into the Singaporean past, and reflects much of the diversity, and dynamism, of environmental history globally.
Timothy P. Barnard is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at the National University of Singapore, where he focuses on the cultural and environmental history of Southeast Asia. His research focuses on a wide variety of topics, ranging from 18th-century Malay identity to film in Singapore in the 1950s. He is currently working on a social history of the Komodo dragon.
"This is an extraordinarily absorbing book [...] what Barnard's edited volume does is provide a fascinating introduction to what were important environmental moments and events not only in the history of Singapore, but also to its influence on the environmental history of other parts of Southeast Asia"
– Victor King