Spatializing the History of Ecology : Sites, Journeys, Mappings book cover
1st Edition

Spatializing the History of Ecology
Sites, Journeys, Mappings

ISBN 9781138727038
Published June 27, 2017 by Routledge
250 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Throughout its history, the discipline of ecology has always been profoundly entangled with the history of space and place. On the one hand, ecology is a field science that has thrived on the study of concrete spatial entities, such as islands, forests or rivers. These spaces are the workplaces in which ecological phenomena are identified, observed and experimented on. They provide both epistemic opportunities and constraints that structure the agenda and the analytical sensibilities of ecological researchers. On the other hand, ecological knowledge and practices have become important resources through which spaces and places are classified, delineated, explained, experienced and managed. The impact of these activities reaches far beyond the realms of the ecological discipline. Many ecological concepts such as "biotopes," "ecosystems" and "the biosphere" have become entities that widely resonate in public life and policy making.  

This book explores the mutual entanglement between space and knowledge-making in the history of ecology. Its first goal is to explore to which extent a spatial perspective can shed new light on the history of ecological science. Second, it uses ecology as a critical site to gain broader insights into the history of the environment in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Via a series of case studies – discussing topics that range from ecological field stations in the early-twentieth century Caribbean over wisent breeding in Nazi Germany to computer modelling in North American deserts – the book offers a tour through the changing landscapes of modern ecology.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

Notes on Contributors



1. Introduction: Places of Ecology/Ecologies of Place

Raf De Bont and Jens Lachmund


Part I: Crafting Zones and Regions


2. Mapping Heimat: Amateur Natural History and Plant Ecology in Imperial Germany

Nils Güttler


3. Discovering Nature’s Secret Spaces: The Rise and Fall of Life Zone Theory in North American Ecology

Roderick Neumann


4. A Laboratory for Tropical Ecology: Colonial Models and American Science at Cinchona, Jamaica

Megan Raby


5. Field Stations and the Problem of Scale: Local, Regional, and Global at the Desert Lab

Jeremy Vetter


6. Ecology and Total Landscape: The West Highland Survey

Mark Toogood


Part II: Modelling Systems


7. Ecosystem Simulation as a Practice of Emplacement

Etienne Benson


8. The City as an Ecosystem: Paul Duvigneaud and the Ecological Study of Brussels

Jens Lachmund


Part III: Fashioning Objects of Conservation


9. Extinct in the Wild: Finding a Place for the European Bison

Raf De Bont


10. The Ecological Discovery of the Global Wadden Sea

Anna-Katharina Wöbse


11. From Wildlife Sanctuary to Biodiversity Hotspot: Global Reserve Design Models and the Making of Chitwan National Park

Simone Schleper and Hans Schouwenburg



Raf De Bont and Jens Lachmund



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Raf de Bont is a Lecturer in the History Department at Maastricht University.

Jens Lachmund is a Lecturer in Science and Technology Studies at Maastricht University.