Resurrecting the Granary of Rome: Environmental History and French Colonial Expansion in North Africa / Edition 2

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Overview


Tales of deforestation and desertification in North Africa have been told from the Roman period to the present. Such stories of environmental decline in the Maghreb are still recounted by experts and are widely accepted without question today. International organizations such as the United Nations frequently invoke these inaccurate stories to justify environmental conservation and development projects in the arid and semiarid lands in North Africa and around the Mediterranean basin. Recent research in arid lands ecology and new paleoecological evidence, however, do not support many claims of deforestation, overgrazing, and desertification in this region.

Diana K. Davis’s pioneering analysis reveals the critical influence of French scientists and administrators who established much of the purported scientific basis of these stories during the colonial period in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, illustrating the key role of environmental narratives in imperial expansion. The processes set in place by the use of this narrative not only systematically disadvantaged the majority of North Africans but also led to profound changes in the landscape, some of which produced the land degradation that continues to plague the Maghreb today.

Resurrecting the Granary of Rome exposes many of the political, economic, and ideological goals of the French colonial project in these arid lands and the resulting definition of desertification that continues to inform global environmental and development projects. The first book on the environmental history of the Maghreb, this volume reframes much conventional thinking about the North African environment. Davis’s book is essential reading for those interested in global environmental history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Davis’s study has done more than any other previous work to place the Middle East on the agenda of environmental history. . . this pathbreaking book should be required reading for all those interested in the history of the Maghrib, environmental history, and the history of colonialism.”
Alan Mikhail, International Journal of Middle East Studies

“In carefully cataloging the troubling and troubled colonial past of North African ecology and ideas about that ecology, Diana Davis takes seriously the problem that history shapes both physical landscapes and the power-laden narratives through which we come to know them. A tremendous contribution!”
Paul Robbins — author of Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction

“Diana K. Davis’s rich and compelling book not only challenges the declensionist narrative on the basis of empirical evidence, but it also explains how and why that narrative came to be constructed in the context of French colonial rule.... Davis makes a powerful argument for exposing the means by which colonized peoples were exploited in the name of environmental protection....”
Caroline Ford—International History Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780821417522
  • Publisher: Ohio University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2007
  • Series: Ecology & History
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Diana K. Davis is an associate professor of history at the University of California at Davis. She has published in Environmental History, Geoforum, Cultural Geographies, the Journal of Arid Environments, and Secheresse.
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