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date: 12 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the role of science in environmental history. Environmental historians use science as a tool for revealing the material past. At the same time, however, they study science as a set of culturally mediated ideas about the non-human world. The chapter also discusses three different calls for “new directions” in environmental history and its relationship to science: the first by US scholar Edmund Russell, the second by Sverker Sorlin and Paul Warde, and the third by US historian W. Jeffrey Bolster. Russell encourages environmental historians to integrate scientific theory (specifically evolutionary theory) into their central scholarly identity. Sorli and Warde argue environmental historians need to acquire more critical distance from science and participate more fully in the reflexive turn in the social sciences, while Bolster called on environmental historians to collaborate with scientists without embracing the more quantitative social sciences and turning the past into an ecological baseline.

Keywords: science, environmental history, Edmund Russell, Sverker Sorlin, Paul Warde, W. Jeffrey Bolster, social sciences, scientific theory, evolutionary history

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