Food and the global agricultural system has become one of the defining public concerns of the twenty-first century. Ecological disorder and inequity is at the heart of our food system. This thoughtful and confronting book tells the story of how the development of modern agriculture promised ecological and social stability but instead descended into dysfunction. Contributing to knowledge in environmental, cultural and agricultural histories, it explores how people have tried to live in the aftermath of ‘ecological imperialism’.
The Broken Promise of Agricultural Progress: An environmental history journeys to the dry inland plains of Australia where European ideas and agricultural technologies clashed with a volatile and taunting country that resisted attempts to subdue and transform it for the supply of global markets. Its wide-ranging narrative puts gritty local detail in its global context to tell the story of how cultural anxieties about civilisation, population, and race, shaped agriculture in the twentieth century. It ranges from isolated experiment farms to nutrition science at the League of Nations, from local landholders to high profile moral crusaders, including an Australian apricot grower who met Franklin D. Roosevelt and almost fed the world.
This book will be useful to undergraduates and postgraduates on courses examining international comparisons of nineteenth and twentieth century agriculture, and courses studying colonial development and settler societies. It will also appeal to food concerned general readers.
'Cameron Muir has produced a brilliant, far-reaching book that combines environmental and agricultural approaches to urgent questions about food politics and land management. This is a terrific work of historically textured, geographically immersed story-telling that also has a strong conceptual payoff in debunking resilient myths about what it would take to feed the world. Muir's conclusions will reverberate across disciplines and national borders.'–Rob Nixon, University of Wisconsin, USA
'In his gripping account of the failures of European agriculture on the western plains of New South Wales, Cameron Muir challenges our assumptions about the social and environmental outcomes of agricultural progress. How can global food security be maintained, given that modern farming technologies can ‘break’ places? Muir’s perceptive and fresh analysis alerts us to why the lessons of the past are so crucial for the future management of our environments.' –Kate Darian-Smith, University of Melbourne, Australia
'This book is remarkable in the way it builds – from an incredibly wide range of sources – an ecological history of what the unbridled quest for agricultural rewards may do to poorly understood lands, especially drylands. In all, this is an enthralling and very important book that deserves to be read by a wide audience of agriculturalists, sociologists, farmers, conservationists and ecologists among others.' –P.S. Lake, Monash University, Australia
Introduction Foreword by Iain McCalman and Libby Robin 1. Hooves 2. Bores 3. Scrub 4. Wheat 5. Dust 6. Reeds 7. Cotton Conclusion
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 (Rebecca.Brennan@tandf.co.uk), 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
Professor Scott Slovic, University of Idaho, USA
Professor Joni Adamson, Arizona State University, USA
Professor YUKI Masami, Kanazawa University, Japan
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
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, Deborah Bird Rose, University of New South Wales, Australia, 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