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Governing the Environment in the Early Modern World : Theory and Practice (Hardcover)
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Governing the Environment in the Early Modern World explores the relationship between cultural perceptions of the environment and practical attempts at environmental regulation and change between 1500 and 1800. Taking a cultural and intellectual approach to early modern environmental governance, this edited collection combines an interpretative perspective with new insights into a period largely unfamiliar to environmental historians.
In the early modern period, scientific debate and governmental action became increasingly preoccupied with the environment. Discussions spread across Europe and the wider world as to how to improve land and climate for human benefit. Encounters with entirely new contexts in colonial settings and changing local environments in Europe led to the reconsideration of long-held beliefs about the role of climate in upholding the social order, driving economies and affecting public health. This book shows how in a variety of national and international contexts practical efforts to enhance productive aspects of the environment were both led by and contributed to new conceptualisations of the role of ‘nature’ in human society. ‘Climate theories’ first advanced by ancient authors remained a popular explanatory paradigm throughout the early modern period, shaping social, environmental and public health policies. Yet the period between 1500 and 1800 was also one of substantial intellectual, scientific, and technological change. As new conceptions of nature, climate, and weather were developed, and the human footprint on Earth grew heavier, regulatory bodies made their first steps towards conservation and sustainable resource management.
By taking a cultural and intellectual approach to early modern environmental history this book will be of special interest to environmental, cultural and intellectual historians, as well as anyone with an interest in the culture and politics of environmental governance.