Methodological Challenges in Nature-Culture and Environmental History Research: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Methodological Challenges in Nature-Culture and Environmental History Research

1st Edition

Edited by Jocelyn Thorpe, Stephanie Rutherford, L. Anders Sandberg


322 pages | 13 B/W Illus.

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This book examines the challenges and possibilities of conducting cultural environmental history research today. Disciplinary commitments certainly influence the questions scholars ask and the ways they seek out answers, but some methodological challenges go beyond the boundaries of any one discipline. The book examines: how to account for the fact that humans are not the only actors in history yet dominate archival records; how to attend to the non-visual senses when traditional sources offer only a two-dimensional, non-sensory version of the past; how to decolonize research in and beyond the archives; and how effectively to use sources and means of communication made available in the digital age.

This book will be a valuable resource for those interested in environmental history and politics, sustainable development and historical geography.


'Overall, the book is a innovative, delightful and thought-provoking piece that will be of interest to any researcher in environmental history. It provides a great starting point for scholars looking to improve on or escape from archival research, and reading it will certainly stir their imagination. I would also argue that the book may be of relevance to the wider community of environmental scholars looking for compelling and engaging methods to teach or communicate environmental research.'

Ricardo Alexio Correia ,Federal University of Alagoas, Brazil, University of Oxford, UK, Environment and History journal

Table of Contents


1. Methodological Challenges Stephanie Rutherford, Jocelyn Thorpe and L. Anders Sandberg 

Part I: Nonhuman Actors

2.Do Glaciers Speak? The Political Aesthetics of Vo/ice Sverker Sörlin

3. Experiencing Earth Art; or, Lessons from Reading the Landscape Marsha Weisiger

4. A Resounding Success? Howling as a Source of Environmental History Stephanie Rutherford 

5. Animals as Historical Actors? Southwest China’s Wild Elephants and Coming to Know the Worlds they Shape Michael Hathaway 

6. Dawns Ysbrydion 09.02.63/ Ghost Dance 09.02.63: Performance as the Instantaneous Precipitation of Traces Roger Owen

PART II: Decolonizing Research

7. Co-becoming Time/s: Time/s-as-Telling-as-Time/s Bawaka Country, including Sandie Suchet-Pearson, Sarah Wright, Kate Lloyd, Laklak Burarrwanga, Ritjilili Ganambarr, Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr-Stubbs, Banbapuy Ganambarr, Djawundil Maymuru, and Jill Sweeney

8. Dibaajimowinan as Method: Environmental History, Indigenous Scholarship, and Balancing Sources Lianne Leddy

9. Giving and Receiving Life from Anishinaabe Nibi Inaakonigewin (Our Water Law) Research Aimée Craft

10. Decolonizing Intellectual Traditions: Conducting Research and Telling our Stories in a ‘Mi’gmaq Way’ Fred Metallic

11. It Matters Where You Begin: A (Continuing) Journey Toward Decolonizing Research Jocelyn Thorpe

PART III: Senses and Affect

12. On Narrative, Affect and Threatened Ecologies of Tidal Landscapes Owain Jones and Katherine Jones

13. Eat Your Primary Sources! Researching and Teaching the Taste of History Ian Mosby 

14. Political Effluvia: Smells, Revelations, and the Politicization of Daily Experience in Naples, Italy Marco Armiero and Salvatore Paolo De Rosa

15. Minuet as Method: Embodied Performance in the Research Process Sonja Boon

16. ‘To Know the Story is To Love It:’ Scientific Mythmaking and the Longing for Cosmic Connection Lisa Sideris

17. The Cycling Historian: Exploring Environmental History on Two Wheels Stephen Bocking

PART IV: Digital Research

18. Online Digital Communication, Networking, and Environmental History Sean Kheraj and K. Jan Oosthoek

19. A New Place for Stories: Blogging as an Environmental History Research Tool Dolly Jørgensen

20. Cultivating the Spirit of the Commons in Environmental History: Digital Communities and Collections Kimberly Coulter and Wilko Graf von Hardenberg

21. Remote Sensing: Digital Data at a Distance Sabine Höhler and Nina Wormbs

22. Walking with GPS: An Object Lesson Finn Arne Jørgensen 

23. But Where Am I? Reflections on Digital Activism Promoting First Peoples’ Presence in a Canadian Heritage Village L. Anders Sandberg, Martha Stiegman and Jesse Thistle

About the Editors

Jocelyn Thorpe is Associate Professor of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the University of Manitoba, Canada. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on the history and legacies of, as well as challenges to, colonialism in the Canadian context, examining how past discourses and relationships of power influence the present.

Stephanie Rutherford is Associate Professor in the School of the Environment at Trent University, Canada. Her research inhabits the intersections among political ecology, critical animal studies, biopolitics, and historical geography.

L. Anders Sandberg is Professor of Environmental Studies at York University, Canada. His two most recent books are the co-edited Urban Forests, Trees, and Greenspace: A Political Ecology Perspective (Routledge, 2014) and Post-Industrial Urban Greenspace: An Environmental Justice Perspective (Routledge, 2015).

About the Series

Routledge Environmental Humanities

From microplastics in the sea to hyper-trends such as global climate change, mega-extinction, and widening social disparities and displacement, we live on a planet undergoing tremendous flux and uncertainty. At the center of this transformation is human culture, both contributing to the state of the world and responding to planetary change. The Routledge Environmental Humanities Series seeks to engage with contemporary environmental challenges through the various lenses of the humanities and to explore foundational issues in environmental justice, multicultural environmentalism, ecofeminism, environmental psychology, environmental materialities and textualities, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, environmental communication and information management, multispecies relationships, and related topics. The series is premised on the notion that the arts, humanities, and social sciences, integrated with the natural sciences, are essential to comprehensive environmental studies.

The environmental humanities are a multidimensional discipline encompassing such fields as anthropology, history, literary and media studies, philosophy, psychology, religion, sociology, and women’s and gender studies; however, the Routledge Environmental Humanities is particularly eager to receive book proposals that explicitly cross traditional disciplinary boundaries, bringing the full force of multiple perspectives to illuminate vexing and profound environmental topics. We favor manuscripts aimed at an international readership and written in a lively and accessible style. Our readers include scholars and students from across the span of environmental studies disciplines and thoughtful citizens and policy makers interested in the human dimensions of environmental change.

Please contact the Editor, Rebecca Brennan ([email protected]), to submit proposals.

Praise for A Cultural History of Climate Change (2016):

A Cultural History of Climate Change shows that the humanities are not simply a late-arriving appendage to Earth System science, to help in the work of translation. These essays offer distinctive insights into how and why humans reason and imagine their ‘weather-worlds’ (Ingold, 2010). We learn about the interpenetration of climate and culture and are prompted to think creatively about different ways in which the idea of climate change can be conceptualised and acted upon beyond merely ‘saving the planet’.

Professor Mike Hulme, King's College London, in Green Letters

Series Editors:

Professor Scott Slovic, University of Idaho, USA

Professor Joni Adamson, Arizona State University, USA

Professor YUKI Masami, Kanazawa University, Japan

Previous editors:

Professor Iain McCalman, University of Sydney Research Fellow in History; Director, Sydney University Environment Institute.

Professor Libby Robin, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra; Guest Professor of Environmental History, Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm Sweden.

Dr Paul Warde, Reader in Environmental History, University of Cambridge, UK

Editorial Board

Christina Alt, St Andrews University, UK, Alison Bashford, University of New South Wales, Australia, Peter Coates, University of Bristol, UK, Thom van Dooren, University of New South Wales, Australia, Georgina Endfield, Liverpool UK, Jodi Frawley, University of Western Australia, Andrea Gaynor, The University of Western Australia, Australia, Christina Gerhardt, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, USA,□Tom Lynch, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, USA, Jennifer Newell, Australian Museum, Sydney, Australia , Simon Pooley, Imperial College London, UK, Sandra Swart, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, Ann Waltner, University of Minnesota, US, Jessica Weir, University of Western Sydney, Australia

International Advisory Board

William Beinart,University of Oxford, UK, Jane Carruthers, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa, Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago, USA, Paul Holm, Trinity College, Dublin, Republic of Ireland, Shen Hou, Renmin University of China, Beijing, Rob Nixon, Princeton University, USA, Pauline Phemister, Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, UK, Sverker Sörlin, KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, Helmuth Trischler, Deutsches Museum, Munich and Co-Director, Rachel Carson Centre, LMU Munich University, Germany, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale University, USA, Kirsten Wehner, University of London, UK

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy