Green Imperialism: Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens and the Origins of Environmentalism, 1600-1860

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $34.52
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 77%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (6) from $34.52   
  • New (3) from $144.06   
  • Used (3) from $34.52   


This is the first book to document the origins and early history of environmentalism, concentrating especially on its hitherto unexplained colonial and global aspects. It highlights the significance of Utopian, physiocratic and medical thinking in the history of environmental ideas. The book shows how the new critique of the colonial impact on the environment depended on the emergence of a coterie of professional scientists, especially in the Dutch, French and English maritime empires. The prime importance of the oceanic island 'Eden' as a vehicle for new conceptions of nature is emphasized, and the significance of colonial island environments in stimulating conservationist notions is underlined, revealing how, for the first time, the limitability of local and global resources could be recognised.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...a fascinating and important book....extremely wide-ranging....Mention must be made of the author's facility in utilizing a remarkable diversity of sources. His understanding of the literature (in many languages) and his wide general knowledge are rare, and, in addition, he writes well. The bibliography is excellent and the interesting asides in footnotes, entertaining and informative." H-Net Book Review

"As a work of global colonial environmental history, this work is unsurpassed. It adds breadth, depth, and new influences; it opens numerous and important avenues for further inquiry. On some levels, it is a pathbreaking book, full of hypotheses to be tested in new and different climates and historical milieus. It sees a vivid environmentalism in colonial history and offers several significant avenues through which to see new trends....This book belongs on the shelf of every environmental historian. For those with particular interest in global relationships, colonialism, and the roots of economy and environment in Africa and Asia, this is a marvelous addition to the literature. Richard Grove has given us one of the most wide-ranging and thought-provoking books of the decade." Hal Rothman, Environmental History

"A valuable reference for scholars studying European colonial history, anthropology, archaeology, and the environmental movement." Choice

"Anyone who assumes that environmentalism is a twentieth-century phenomenon concerning primarily European and US problems is likely to find this book illuminating. Richard H. Grove, a leading historian of science in the age of empires, shows in fascinating detail, through the experience and writings of scientists who went out to the colonies, that environmental thought evolved in early modern times (1600s-1800s)....This book is remarkable and may well change the prevailing ideas about a major period in the history of science. It is likely to make impossible some of the generalizations that have become current about the origins of environmental concern. Grove's scholarship is impressive, his literary style is congenial and readable, and his narrative constantly presents newly unearthed facts and interpretations that are unexpected but almost always convincing." J. Donald Hughes, BioScience

"The great strength of his [Grove] work is its remarkable search for globalization, matched by his own prodigious scholarly travels. He has also produced some convincing internationalization of scientific thought and identified key strands, not least the French derived from Mauritius and the Scots from India." John MacKenzie. International History Review

"Grove's study of the origins and development of European environmentalism is an outstanding work of interpretive scholarship, even a revolutionary one. It should become required reading for students of European relations." Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"Grove has set out to write a traditional, primarily European-oriented, intellectual history of the roots of Western environmentalism. He has taken up an enormous challenge. To criticize a few weaknesses is to compliment him for his attempt here at grand theory. This is a volume that will prove to be one of the mainstays of the small but growing encyclopedia of global environmental history." American Historical Review

"Grove writes a cultured and literate prose that is a joy to read. His jugments are based on solid research in source materials that are found in the European imperial centers and also in the former colonies, some of them scattered and difficult of access. This book deserves a prominent place beside Alfred W. Crosby's Ecological imperialism as a key to understanding the environmental consequences of European worldwide expansion. Although Grove wisely avoids applying his study to the twentieth-century environmental crisis, it seems to this reviewer that his work offers an indispensable background for those who would like to know how the supposed caretakers of the earth arrived where they are today. The first concerns are well chronicled here, as are the first missteps." Journal of World History

"...Grove has fused colonial expansion, the roots of modern science, and what he calls the roots of environmentalism in a multi-layered attempt to push the genealogical tree of environmenatlism back in time....Grove pushes us back both further in time and broader in geographic space than any existing history of the roots of environmentalism....As a work of gloabal colonial environmental history, this work is unsurpassed. It adds breadth, depth, and new influences; it opens numerous and important avenues for further inquiry. On some level, it is a pathbreaking book, full of hypothesis to be tested in new and different climates and historical milieus. It sees a vivid environmentalism in colonial history and offers several significant avenues through which to see new trends." Hal Rothman, Environmental History

"...this book...forces a vast and new research agenda on environmental history which, when completed, will greatly illuminate our past, and explain a bit better the reasons for our present predicaments. GReen Imperialism will remain a pioneering work, a book that will take its own place in history...." S. Ravi Rajan, Capitalism Nature Socialism

Read More Show Less

Product Details

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
Introduction 1
1 Edens, islands and early empires 16
2 Indigenous knowledge and the significance of South-West India for Portuguese and Dutch constructions of tropical nature 73
3 The English and Dutch East India companies and the seventeenth-century environmental crisis in the colonies 95
4 Stephen Hales and some Newtonian antecedents of climatic environmentalism, 1700-1763 153
5 Protecting the climate of paradise: Pierre Poivre and the conservation of Mauritius under the ancien regime 168
6 Climate, conservation and Carib resistance: The British and the forests of the Eastern Caribbean, 1760-1800 264
7 The beginnings of global environmentalism: Professional science, oceanic islands and the East India Company, 1768-1838 309
8 Diagnosing crisis: The East India Company medical services and the emergence of state conservationism in India, 1760-1857 380
Conclusion: The colonial state and the origins of western environmentalism 474
Select bibliography 487
Index 527
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)