Rethinking Environmental History: World-System History and Global Environmental Change

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This exciting new reader in environmental history provides a framework for understanding the relations between ecosystems and world-systems over time. Alf Hornborg, J. R. McNeill, and Joan Martinez-Alier have brought together a group of prominent social scientists, historians, and geographical scientists to provide a historical overview of the ecological dimension of global economic processes. Readers are challenged to integrate studies of the "Earth-system" with studies of the "world-system," and to reconceptualize the relations between human beings and their environment as well as the challenges of global sustainability.
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Editorial Reviews

Thomas D. Hall
The contributors to Rethinking Environmental History argue for a truly global, historical, and transdisciplinary approach to environmental history, even when analyzing the most localized instances of degradation. They show how and why environmental degradations have been uneven throughout history—and in the process employ, critique, and extend world-systems analysis.
Eduardo S. Brondizio
This book offers new perspectives on global environmental problems at a time when many of these issues are discussed and taught in a historical and political-economic vacuum. It is coherent in theme, interdisciplinary in scope, historically innovative, and geographically far-reaching. A 'world-system' perspective provides a thread for a multifaceted view of distributive aspects of our interlinked economic and environmental histories. Rethinking Environmental History offers carefully crafted studies and provocative essays by some of the most respected scholars (and best writers!) on the topic. This volume brings much-needed depth to the scholarship of globalization and environment, and inauguates a new phase of inquiry in political ecology, environmental history, and environmental sciences in general.
Alfred W. Crosby
Environmental history is new, exciting, and protean—a veritable stem cell of scholarly inquiry. To sample it while its insights are fresh and provoke new views of even your own origins, read Rethinking Environmental History.
Donald E. Worster
This is the best overview we have of political ecology, which tries to link environmental change to political economy and social injustice. Through a set of richly layered and well-argued chapters, the authors demonstrate how empires and powerful nation-states have long enriched themselves and protected their own environments by extracting wealth from faraway places. These authors restore both ecology and economy to the center of environmental history. All historians and environmental policy makers should read their contributotions carefully and incorporate their ecological perspective into our understanding of the past.
William Thompson
We like to think that we are free agents and that everything is possible. Yet technological development today is highly uneven, just as it was throughout the past. All development is subject to various ecological constraints. How actors deal with these constraints and who ends up bearing their burden are often more complex processes than they may seem from local perspectives. The chapters in Hornborg, McNeill, and Martinez-Alier help illustrate these multifaceted problems in a number of fascinating and globally conscious ways.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Alf Hornborg is an anthropologist and professor of human ecology at Lund University. J. R. McNeill is professor of history, director of graduate studies, and Cinco Hermanos Chair of Environmental and International Affairs at Georgetown University. Joan Martinez-Alier is professor of ecological economics in the Department of Economics and Economic History at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     xi
Introduction: Environmental History as Political Ecology   Alf Hornborg     1
The Environment in World-System History: Tracing Social Processes in Nature
Environmental Impacts of the Roman Economy and Social Structure: Augustus to Diocletian   J. Donald Hughes     27
"People Said Extinction Was Not Possible": Two Thousand Years of Environmental Change in South China   Robert B. Marks     41
Precolonial Landesque Capital: A Global Perspective   Mats Widgren     61
Food, War, and Crisis: The Seventeenth-Century Swedish Empire   Janken Myrdal     79
The Role of Deforestation in Earth and World-System Integration   Michael Williams     101
Silver, Ecology, and the Origins of the Modern World, 1450-1640   Jason W. Moore     123
Trade, "Trinkets," and Environmental Change at the Edge of World-Systems: Political Ecology and the East African Ivory Trade   N. Thomas Hakansson     143
Steps to an Environmental History of the Western Llanos of Venezuela: A World-System Perspective   Rafael A. Gasson     163
The Extractive Economy: An Early Phase of the Globalization of Diet, and Its Environmental Consequences   Richard Wilk     179
Yellow Jack and Geopolitics: Environment, Epidemics, and the Struggles for Empire in theAmerican Tropics, 1640-1830   J. R. McNeill     199
Ecology and Unequal Exchange: Unraveling Environmental Injustice in the Modern World
Marxism, Social Metabolism, and International Trade   Joan Martinez-Alier     221
Natural Values and the Physical Inevitability of Uneven Development under Capitalism   Stephen G. Bunker     239
Footprints in the Cotton Fields: The Industrial Revolution as Time-Space Appropriation and Environmental Load Displacement   Alf Hornborg     259
Uneven Ecological Exchange and Consumption-Based Environmental Impacts: A Cross-National Investigation   Andrew K. Jorgenson   James Rice     273
Combining Social Metabolism and Input-Output Analyses to Account for Ecologically Unequal Trade   Helga Weisz     289
Physical Trade Flows of Pollution-Intensive Products: Historical Trends in Europe and the World   Roldan Muradian   Stefan Giljum     307
Environmental Issues at the U.S.-Mexico Border and the Unequal Territorialization of Value   Josiah Heyman     327
Surrogate Money, Technology, and the Expansion of Savanna Soybeans in Brazil   William H. Fisher     345
Scale and Dependency in World-Systems: Local Societies in Convergent Evolution   Joseph A. Tainter     361
The Ecology and the Economy: What Is Rational?    Immanuel Wallerstein     379
Index     391
About the Contributors     407
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