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The Environmental Legacy of European Expansion and Colonialism: Three Controversies

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Recent scholarship on the environmental impacts of European expansion has witnessed significant theoretical discordance. The debate, largely between those who draw upon Foucauldian analysis, postcolonial studies, and the cultural studies of science, on the one hand, and those informed by literatures in world history, intellectual history, economic history, and the history of science, technology and medicine; on the other, is relevant not just to the environmental history, but to our understanding of European colonialism more broadly. Yet, there has as yet been no systematic attempt to robustly identify the issues at stake, and debate them openly. The purpose of this essay is to address this gap. It addresses theoretical essays by anthropologist K. Sivaramakrishnan and others, and focuses on three central questions over which historians disagree.
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Keywords: colonialism; controversies; environment

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2017

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  • The half-yearly journal Global Environment: A Journal of History and Natural and Social Sciences acts as a forum and echo chamber for ongoing studies on the environment and world history, with special focus on modern and contemporary topics. Our intent is to gather and stimulate scholarship that, despite a diversity of approaches and themes, shares an environmental perspective on world history in its various facets, including economic development, social relations, production government, and international relations.
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