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Enlightenment’s Frontier is the first book to investigate the environmental roots of the Scottish Enlightenment. What was the place of the natural world in Adam Smith’s famous defense of free trade? Fredrik Albritton Jonsson recovers the forgotten networks of improvers and natural historians that sought to transform the soil, plants, and climate of Scotland in the eighteenth century. The Highlands offered a vast outdoor laboratory for rival liberal and conservative views of nature and society. But when the improvement schemes foundered toward the end of the century, northern Scotland instead became a crucible for anxieties about overpopulation, resource exhaustion, and the physical limits to economic growth. In this way, the rise and fall of the Enlightenment in the Highlands sheds new light on the origins of environmentalism.
About the Author
Fredrik Albritton Jonsson is an assistant professor of British history at the University of Chicago. He lives in Chicago, IL.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Enlightenment in the Peat Moss 1
Part 1 A New World in the North
1 The Moral Geography of Scotland 11
2 Natural History and Civil Cameralism 43
3 Improving the Scottish Climate 69
Part 2 Rival Ecologies
4 Alternate Highlands 93
5 Rival Ecologies of Global Commerce 121
6 Larch Autarky 147
Part 3 Stationary Highlands
7 Coal Exhaustion in 1789 167
8 Overpopulation and Extirpation 188
9 Wasteland Island 213
10 "A Stationary Condition for Ever" 232
Conclusion: The Ghosts of the Enlightenment 262
List of Abbreviations 267
What People are Saying About This
An important and interesting book and one that should speak to different historical scholars—of Enlightenment, of intellectual history, of British and Scottish history.—Charles W. J. Withers, University of Edinburgh
A lively work, written with subtlety, some considerable humor, and always conscious of its contemporary relevance . . . this volume should be read by those with an interest in the history of enlightenment thought, empire and science, development ideology, and environmentalism.—Paul Warde, University of East Anglia