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Observations on the Nature and Culture of Environmental History



This article aims to consider the robust field of environmental history as a whole, as it stands and as it has developed over the past twenty-five years around the world. It necessarily adopts a selective approach but still offers more breadth than depth. It treats the links between environmental history and other fields within history, and with other related disciplines such as geography. It considers the precursors of environmental history, its emergence since the 1970s, its condition in several settings and historiographies. Finally it touches on environmental history's relationship to social theory and to the natural sciences as they have evolved in recent decades. It concludes that while there remains plenty of interesting work yet to do, environmental history has successfully established itself as a legitimate field within the historical profession, and has a bright future, if perhaps for discouraging reasons.