Imperial Ecology: Environmental Order in the British Empire, 1895-1945

Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.

Winner of the History of Science Society’s Forum for History of Human Sciences Prize. Citation.

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Abstract

From 1895 to the founding of the United Nations in 1945, the promising new science of ecology flourished in the British Empire. Peder Anker asks why ecology expanded so rapidly and how a handful of influential scientists and politicians established a tripartite ecology of nature, knowledge, and society.

Patrons in the northern and southern extremes of the Empire, he argues, urgently needed tools for understanding environmental history as well as human relations to nature and society in order to set policies for the management of natural resources and to effect social control of natives and white settlement. Holists such as Jan Christian Smuts and mechanists such as Arthur George Tansley vied for the right to control and carry out ecological research throughout the British Empire and to lay a foundation of economic and social policy that extended from Spitsbergen to Cape Town.

The enlargement of the field from botany to human ecology required a broader methodological base, and ecologists drew especially on psychology and economy. They incorporated those methodologies and created a new ecological order for environmental, economic, and social management of the Empire.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • […] He is the author of From Bauhaus to Eco-House: A History of Ecological Design (2010) and Imperial Ecology: Environmental Order in the British Empire, 1895–1945 (2001). He is the co-author of Global Design: Elsewhere Envisioned (2014) together with Louise […]

    Reply
  • […] He is the author of From Bauhaus to Eco-House: A History of Ecological Design (2010) and Imperial Ecology: Environmental Order in the British Empire, 1895–1945 (2001). He is the co-author of Global Design: Elsewhere Envisioned (2014) together with Louise […]

    Reply
  • 3. Mr Stephen Osei-Owusu  |  October 20, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Could I please have a copy for my PHD research? Would be most grateful. Thanks

    Reply
    • 4. Isabelle Edwards  |  November 8, 2019 at 7:43 am

      Same here! Any hopes of a new edition? This book is impossible to find in french libraries and way too expensive for PhD allowance.. And yet, fundamental for my research!

      Reply
  • 5. hubhub  |  November 23, 2019 at 6:51 am

    The enlargement of the field from botany to human ecology required a broader methodological base, and ecologists drew especially on psychology and economy. They incorporated those methodologies and created a new ecological order for environmental, economic, and social management of the Empire.

    Reply

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