Ecology, climate and empire : colonialism and global environmental history, 1400-1940 /

Main Author: Grove, Richard
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Cambridge, UK : White Horse Press, 1997.
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Review by Choice Review

Grove's three-word title is misleading; the only climates considered are wet tropical and dry tropical; and the only empire mentioned is the British. The only ecological process relevant to this discussion seems to be the 2,000-year-old "desiccationist" hypothesis of Theophrastus, that deforestation must lead to drought and famine. Grove's study is a meticulous history of tropical forest management in the British colonies, particularly India and West Africa, over the past 300 years or so. Chapter 2, "Conserving Eden: The (European) East India Companies and the Environmental Policies on St. Helena, Mauritius and in Western India, 1660-1854" (49 pages) has 129 footnotes. Chapter 4 (49 footnotes) offers a historic background to the climatic changes associated with what are now known as El Ni~no and the Southern Oscillation, starting with the droughts of 1791 and 1877-1879 in India and Australia. The book closes with a characteristic argument: "it is clear that the more closely one investigates episodes of rural resistance to capitalist or monolithic state ambitions, the more one is likely to uncover the political significance of the ecological element in the motivation of the resister." Adequate index. A pre-1930 world atlas would have been a useful adjunct reference. Graduate students and faculty. R. S. Platt Jr.; Ohio State University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.