Journal of the British Academy explores historical perspectives on environment in new special issue
30 Sep 2021
A special issue of the open-access Journal of the British Academy on Environmental History is published today, featuring new research into historical dimensions of the Anthropocene, ecological resilience, environmental protection, climate politics and more.
The Journal of the British Academy draws on new multi-disciplinary research from the humanities and social sciences. Today’s new special issue includes three articles:
- Professor Alison Bashford FBA et al. present a programme of research that aims to offer a new perspective on the idea of an "Anthropocene" era by tracing the ancient and modern history of Gondwanaland, an ancient mega-continent spanning five present-day continents, whose once-living beings became the southern hemisphere’s fossil fuels.
- Professor Gregory D. Smithers demonstrates how water stories – a part of the living body of indigenous knowledge of the Cherokee people of the Appalachian Mountains that takes the form of oral histories, sacred beliefs and everyday practices– provide vital insights for living in harmony with local ecosystems.
- Dr Adrian Howkins et al. examine the history of New Zealand’s Vanda Station in Antarctica and the circumstances of its closure in the early 1990s, finding it at the centre of interconnecting social, political, scientific and environmental factors.
The issue is part of the ongoing series highlighting the complex human and social dimensions of the climate crisis ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference summit in Glasgow.
Professor Simon Goldhill FBA, Foreign Secretary of the British Academy, said:
“This series of special issues is intended to invite further thought-provoking approaches to climate policymaking from the breadth and depth of research in the SHAPE disciplines (Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts). These disciplines add considerable depth and nuance to the conversations and assumptions that form the backdrop of climate policy.
“Environmental history helps us draw the connection between climate action and the modern and ancient circumstances that shape it or have the potential to influence it in future. With outstanding research, as this issue shows, we can find vital ideas and insights contained in daily practices, sacred beliefs, indigenous knowledge, and other evidence from ancient and modern history.”