Contemporary ideas of nature were largely shaped by schools of thought from Western cultural history and philosophy until the present-day concerns with environmental change and biodiversity conservation. There are many different ways of conceptualising nature in epistemological terms, reflecting the tensions between the polarities of humans as masters or protectors of nature and as part of or outside of nature.
The book shows how nature is today the focus of numerous debates, calling for an approach which goes beyond the merely technical or scientific. It adopts a threefold – critical, historical and cross-disciplinary – approach in order to summarise the current state of knowledge. It includes contributions informed by the humanities (especially history, literature and philosophy) and social sciences, concerned with the production and circulation of knowledge about "nature" across disciplines and across national and cultural spaces. The volume also demonstrates the ongoing reconfiguration of subject disciplines, as seen in the recent emergence of new interdisciplinary approaches and the popularity of the prefix "eco-" (e.g. ecocriticism, ecospirituality, ecosophy and ecofeminism, as well as subdivisions of ecology, including urban ecology, industrial ecology and ecosystem services). Each chapter provides a concise overview of its topic which will serve as a helpful introduction to students and a source of easy reference.
This text is also valuable reading for researchers interested in philosophy, sociology, anthropology, geography, ecology, politics and all their respective environmentalist strands.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Rethinking the idea of nature
Aurélie Choné, Isabelle Hajek & Philippe Hamman
Part I – Values and actions
1 Environmental ethics
Dennis L. Merritt
Part II – Writings and representations
5 The aesthetics of nature
7 Epistemocritical perspectives on nature
Part III – Movements, activism and societies
8 From Lebensreform to political ecology
10 From environmental sociology to ecosociologies
11 From anthropogeography to ethnoecology
Part IV – Renewed ecologies
12 Rethinking rural nature in the era of ecocide
13 Urban ecology
Isabelle Hajek and Jean-Pierre Lévy
14 Nature, environment, health
15 Sustainable urbanism
16 Industrial ecology
17 The ecosystem services paradigm
Part V – Human–animal
18 Ecocide, ethnocide and civilizations
19 Animal studies
20 Constructing an animal history
21 Environmental humanities
Conclusion: How nature matters
Aurélie Choné, Isabelle Hajek and Philippe Hamman
Aurélie Choné is Associate Professor in German Cultural Studies at the Faculty of World Languages and Cultures, University of Strasbourg, France.
Isabelle Hajek is Associate Professor in Sociology at the Institute for Urbanism and Regional Development, University of Strasbourg, France.
Philippe Hamman is Professor of Sociology at the Institute for Urbanism and Regional Development, University of Strasbourg, France.
"This book represents a wide collection of vibrant contributions on the topical issue of understanding nature and environmental challenges without remaining trapped in the horizon of the natural sciences. The book’s ambitious aim is to challenge not only the very idea of nature but also any rigid academic disciplinary framework that can prevent research from crossing both disciplinary and cultural boundaries. Thus, the collection also seeks to offer“a resolutely cross-cultural and multidisciplinary approach” that is able to include non-Western conceptions and a wide range of disciplines." - Francesco Carpanini in Environment and Society: Advances in Research Journal (2018)
"Defining nature and the various ways it features in disciplines which range from theology through geography to biology is complex, and is continually developing. Such themes and trends, involving the ever-changing relationship between nature and culture, are the subject matter of this book. The 21 contributors represent a diverse array of disciplines including philosophy, literature, history, planning, sociology, environmental humanities, social/urban geography, entomology, ecological economics and anthropology... This book is a valuable contribution to the ecological/environmental literature... It deserves a wide readership at undergraduate and postgraduate levels as well as those involved in the construction and implementation of environmental policies." - A.M. Mannion in British Ecological Society Bulletin (2017)
"One of the main strengths of this book lies in its exhaustive examination of the relationship between nature and society, with comparative analyses drawn from a wide array of domains, giving the reader a global understanding of the subject. These include ethics, spirituality, psychology, aesthetics, feminism, sociology, politics, economics, anthropology, urbanism and animal protection. In each case, the authors delve into the relationship between their discipline and the concept of ‘nature’, which has sparked a flurry of ‘eco’ disciplines (eco-feminism, eco-spirituality, eco-psychology, etc.). As a result, the book brings original insights into new, little-studied emerging disciplines." -Arnault Barichella in French Journal of Political Science (2018) [translated from the original in French]
The book is a major milestone in environmental studies because it describes the ongoing ecologization of knowledge and sheds light on the reflexive impacts of such an epistemological turn on literary and social disciplines. […] For the first time in the English-language literature, Rethinking Nature sums up the contemporary controversies and debates among environmental humanities scholars from different disciplinary and geographical backgrounds, in order to go beyond national differences and encourage new ways of studying the environment. The book is essential reading for students interested in environmental issues and in the various ideas, controversies and knowledge which have shaped environmental thought and made it such a vibrant and fruitful field." Emiliano Scanu in Natures Sciences Sociétés (2018) [translated from the original in French]