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Last update: 2013-04-04

The Scottish forestry experience and the development of forestry in India

2013-04-04 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 32s

Since at least the 18th century Scotland has been the centre of forestry knowledge in Britain. Many foresters and botanists trained on Scottish estates went into the colonial service in during the 19th century and what they brought with them was a unique set of forestry skills. This paper examines the influence of Scottish foresters on the development of empire forestry in British India. Scottish-trained foresters aided the adaptation of continental forestry models, mainly German and French, to the Indian conditions, drawing on their experience gained in Scotland. Returning from their service in India they went on to advocate the creation of a forestry service in Scotland, which resonated with landowners who believed that forestry would make the Highlands more productive. This podcast is the registration of a seminar talk given by Jan Oosthoek in the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, 22 March 2013. Music credit: Where You Are Now by Zapac.…

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Conquering the Highlands. History of the afforestation of the Scottish uplands

2013-03-26 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 31s

By the end of the nineteenth century, Scotland's woodlands were reduced to about six per cent of land cover. Over the course of the twentieth century, foresters worked to establish timber reserves in the Scottish Highlands, creating forests on marginal lands that were not easily adapted to forestry following millennia of deforestation. Using a variety of techniques and strategies drawn from modern forestry practices, the Scottish uplands were afforested in the twentieth century, tripling the forest cover. The creation of new forests to serve strategic and economic interests, however, altered the ecology of the Scottish uplands and eventually came into conflict with the interests of environmentalists in the late twentieth century. This fascinating history of the afforestation of the Scottish uplands is explored in a new book by environmental historian Jan Oosthoek called, Conquering the Highlands: A History of the Afforestation of the Scottish Uplands. To learn more about this book, this episode features an interview with the author. Music credits: Lark in the Morning. The Atholl Highlanders by Slainte and Scotland the Brave by Shake That Little Foot.…

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Kielder: the story of a man-made landscape

2013-02-21 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 25s

Around the world, rural landscapes have been transformed by human activity as never before. In England, one of the most striking locations of such anthropogenic changes is Kielder Forest and Water in Northumberland. Since the 1920s, this site has seen a massive tree planting effort, creating one of the largest man-made forests in Western Europe. During the 1970s a large dam and reservoir were constructed at Kielder in order to create a secure water supply for the industries at Teeside. As a result Kielder has witnessed significant and dramatic environmental changes over the course of the twentieth century, as it was transformed from a pastoral agricultural landscape, to that of a commercial forest and finally it received the addition of a large man-made lake. To tease out how people have experienced and perceived the man-made environment of Kielder, the Kielder Oral History Project was conducted. On this episode of the podcast, the two researchers carried out the Kielder Oral History project, Professor David Moon of the University of York and Dr Leona Skelton of Durham University, will discuss some of their findings. Music credits: Memories of an Old Dog by Fireproof_Babies, Where You Are Now by Zapac.…

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Remaking wetlands: a tale of rice, ducks and floods in the Murrumbidgee River region

2012-12-04 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 34s

Before the arrival of Europeans and their agriculture, Australian ducks only had to compete with other native birds and animals, as well as Aboriginal hunters. However, the introduction of water intensive agricultural activity by Europeans changed all this and in particular rice cultivation has altered most river systems in Australia, and as a result the habitat for ducks. The guest on this episode of the Exploring Environmental History podcast is Emily OGorman, an Associate Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research of the University of Wollongong. She is an expert on Australian flooding and river history and examines on this podcast the ways in which ducks as well as people negotiated the changing water landscapes of the Murrumbidgee River caused by the creation of rice paddies. Music credits: Forecast by cdk, Where You Are Now by Zapac. …

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Remaking wetlands: a tale of rice, ducks and floods in the Murrumbidgee River region

2012-12-04 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 34s

Before the arrival of Europeans and their agriculture, Australian ducks only had to compete with other native birds and animals, as well as Aboriginal hunters. However, the introduction of water intensive agricultural activity by Europeans changed all this and in particular rice cultivation has altered most river systems in Australia, and as a result the habitat for ducks. The guest on this episode of the Exploring Environmental History podcast is Emily OGorman, an Associate Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research of the University of Wollongong. She is an expert on Australian flooding and river history and examines on this podcast the ways in which ducks as well as people negotiated the changing water landscapes of the Murrumbidgee River caused by the creation of rice paddies. …

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Canine City: Dogs and Humans in Urban History

2012-11-19 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 26s

In the modern urbanized world it is often forgotten that throughout history humans have been very dependent on animals for their survival and livelihoods. Until recently most humans in the developed world share their cities with animals, in particular those that provided transport or energy for all kinds of labour. Most obvious of these are horses and donkeys. But none of these animals has such as long symbiotic history with humans as dogs. Today, most dogs in the developed world are kept as pets. However, urban dogs have also been economically as well as culturally important. The history of urban dogs is a story that has hardly been told. This was also noticed by Chris Pearson, Lecturer in Twentieth Century History at the University of Liverpool in the UK, and he is working on a research project entitled Canine City: Dogs, Humans, and the Making of Modern Paris. In this episode of the podcast Dr. Pearson talks about this project and the role of dogs in modern urban history. …

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Canine City: Dogs and Humans in Urban History

2012-11-19 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 26s

In the modern urbanized world it is often forgotten that throughout history humans have been very dependent on animals for their survival and livelihoods. Until recently most humans in the developed world share their cities with animals, in particular those that provided transport or energy for all kinds of labour. Most obvious of these are horses and donkeys. But none of these animals has such as long symbiotic history with humans as dogs. Today, most dogs in the developed world are kept as pets. However, urban dogs have also been economically as well as culturally important. The history of urban dogs is a story that has hardly been told. This was also noticed by Chris Pearson, Lecturer in Twentieth Century History at the University of Liverpool in the UK, and he is working on a research project entitled Canine City: Dogs, Humans, and the Making of Modern Paris. In this episode of the podcast Dr. Pearson talks about this project and the role of dogs in modern urban history. …

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Explorations in historical climatology

2012-07-23 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 23s

For many historical climatologists cold, wet and stormy weather worsened life for most European people and harmed the economy during the early modern period. Warmth on the other hand is generally regarded as a beneficial thing but too much of it is also harmful. This all seems to make sense if one ignores the Dutch economic miracle which transformed a small piece of land on the edge of Europe into the first modern economy just as the Little Ice Age entered its coldest phase. How is this possible in the face of climatic stress? This is one of that questions that Dagomar Degroot, a PhD Candidate in environmental history at York University in Toronto, Canada, addresses on this episode of the podcast. His research explores the issue of how the changing climate of the Little Ice Age influenced the cultural, military and economic histories of the Dutch Republic during the early modern period. In addition, Dagomar will discuss the pitfalls of determinism and indeterminism in historical climatology, the sources available to historian’s researching climate and the relevance of historical climate research for present day debates about global warming and climate change. Finally, he will talk about the importance of blogging for the historical profession as a tool to communicate research outcomes to a wider audience. …

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Explorations in historical climatology

2012-07-23 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 23s

For many historical climatologists cold, wet and stormy weather worsened life for most European people and harmed the economy during the early modern period. Warmth on the other hand is generally regarded as a beneficial thing but too much of it is also harmful. This all seems to make sense if one ignores the Dutch economic miracle which transformed a small piece of land on the edge of Europe into the first modern economy just as the Little Ice Age entered its coldest phase. How is this possible in the face of climatic stress? This is one of that questions that Dagomar Degroot, a PhD Candidate in environmental history at York University in Toronto, Canada, addresses on this episode of the podcast. His research explores the issue of how the changing climate of the Little Ice Age influenced the cultural, military and economic histories of the Dutch Republic during the early modern period. In addition, Dagomar will discuss the pitfalls of determinism and indeterminism in historical climatology, the sources available to historian’s researching climate and the relevance of historical climate research for present day debates about global warming and climate change. Finally, he will talk about the importance of blogging for the historical profession as a tool to communicate research outcomes to a wider audience. …

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Medicinal plants in New Zealand: bridging the gap between medical and environmental history

2012-06-18 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 14s

Medical historians often presume that 19th century European settlers of New Zealand and other parts of the world relied on the emerging inorganic medicines and colonial doctors to maintain their health. However, there is also another story that seems to be overlooked: that of the use of medicine plants by settlers. For these medicinal purposes settlers introduced many new plants from overseas. The guest on this edition of the podcast is Joanna Bishop, a PhD student at the university of Wiakato in Hamilton, New Zealand. She is working on a study uncovering the story of the introduction and use of medicinal plants in New Zealand and their botanical, medical as well as environmental histories. …

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Silent Spring at 50: a comparison perspective

2011-12-21 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 25s

2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring”. This publication is often regarded as the beginning of the modern environmental movement, in particular in the US. Silent Spring documents the effects of pesticides on the environment, and in particularly on birds. In addition, Carson accused the chemical industry of spreading disinformation, and government officials of accepting industry claims uncritically. Silent Spring had a profound impact on the development of environmental consciousness and led to the regulation of the use of pesticide in North America and Europe. In order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Silent Spring this episode of the podcast explores the significance of this book with Mark Wilson, a PhD candidate at the University of Northumbria in Newcastle, England. Mark has written a study which compares the response to Silent Spring in the US and Britain. He also agues that Silent Spring is a typical product of its time that was closely connected with the Cold War and the rise of the counter culture at both sides of the Atlantic. …

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A transformed landscape: the steppes of Ukraine and Russia

2011-07-27 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 33s

The steppes of Ukraine and Russia were once a sea of grass on rolling plains on which pastoral nomadic peoples grazed their herds of livestock. From the eighteenth century, the steppes have been transformed into a major agricultural region. This process started after the region was annexed to the Russian Empire and settled by migrants from forested landscapes in central and northern Russia and Ukraine and also from central Europe. By the twentieth century, the former steppe landscape had almost disappeared, save a few remnants protected in nature reserves (zapovedniki). In this podcast episode, David Moon, professor of Russian history at Durham University, UK, talks about his recent visit to the Ukrainian steppes. In addition to conventional historical research in archives and libraries in Odessa, he travelled through the steppes, visited nature reserves, and met scientists to help him understand how the landscape had been transformed over time. This episode provides fascinating insights into the environmental history of the steppes and the way that environmental historians go about studying the history of landscapes and environments. …

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Teaching and discovering environmental history online

2011-07-11 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 21s

From 27 June to 2 July 2011 the sixth conference of the European Society took place in the city of Turku in Finland. The meeting consisted of many parallel sessions on a wide range of topics exploring the interactions between human societies and nature in the past. This podcast will report on a paper discussing the results of a novel experiment in environmental didactics involving the web and e-learning technologies carried out by Martin Schmid of the Institute of Social Ecology, Alpen-Adria University Vienna and Rogerio Ribeiro de Oliveira of Pontificia Universidade Catolica, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They used web technologies to teach an intercontinental course in urban environmental history involving classes in Rio de Janeiro and Vienna. The second part of the podcast reports on a roundtable entitled Towards an online environmental history of Europe. This panel discussed the technical, structural and thematic issues of an online environmental history of Europe which is under development by the Rachel Carson Centre for Environment and Society in Munich. The project, dubbed Arcadia, will be an encyclopedia-like resource with articles in the form of localized histories and each entry will include time, theme and location metadata as well as information about relevant organizations, people and species in order to visualize it on a map and make the material searchable. The site will provide visitors with exploratory tools to aid the discovery of material. The Arcadia online environmental history will be launched in early 2012 as part of the umbrella Environment and Society Portal. …

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Energy utopia or dystopia? - A historical perspective on nuclear energy

2011-04-06 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 26s

For the past decade nuclear energy has been increasingly promoted as a carbon neutral source of energy. The Japanese Tsunami of March 2011 threw a spanner in the works when the Fukushima One nuclear power plant was flooded destroying its cooling system. The accident highlighted the potential hidden risks of nuclear technologies and fuelled fear of radiation and contamination of the environment with nuclear materials among the general public. Considering past nuclear incidents it is doubtful if the Fukushima emergency will prevent the construction nuclear plants in the long run. On this episode of the podcast Horace Herring of the Open University in Britain will explore the utopian origins of nuclear energy and how it became a dystopian illusion. He argues that economics and distrust in science and big government undermined nuclear energy more than environmental or health concerns. Music credit: LOVELESS by Caster Seven, available from ccMixter. …

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Reframing a vision of lost fens

2010-12-18 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 19s

Wetlands were once common over a large part of eastern England. Of these so-called fens only two percent survives today and most of it is now situated in nature reserves. One of these reserves is Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire. Today Wicken Fen is the focus of a controversial proposal to radically expand the area of managed wetland around the reserve and to return arable land to its former wetland condition. On this podcast we interview Stuart Warrington, Nature Conservation Advisor for the National Trust at Wicken Fen, about these proposed changes and the role of history in recreating the wetlands. The second half of the podcast is devoted to a talk delivered by Ian Rotherham of Sheffield Hallam University. In his talk Ian analyses the attitudes towards the fens over the centuries and how these influenced the desire to drain thousands of square kilometres of wetland. He also considers the rich wild life in these wetlands and what a rich resources these provided for its inhabitants. Music credit: Mechanics in Love (Cue 3) flac Stems by boomaga, available from ccMixter. …

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Slavery, fossil fuel use and climate change: past connections, present similarities

2010-12-08 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 24s

What is the connection between the abolition of slavery, the Industrial Revolution, the use fossil fuels and climate change? Jeff Mohout of Birmingham University recently discussed this question in an article in the journal Climatic Change. In this episode of the podcast Mohout presents his idea that that slaves in the past and fossil-fuelled machines at present play similar economic and social roles: both slave and modern societies externalised labour and both slaves and modern machines freed their owners from daily chores. Consequently, modern society is as dependent on fossil fuels as slave societies were dependent on bonded labour. Mohout also suggests that, in differing ways, suffering resulting (directly) from slavery and (indirectly) from the excessive burning of fossil fuels are now morally comparable. The pocast concludes with some suggestions of the lessons which may be learned from the abolition of slavery in the 19th century for dealing with modern climate change and the associated energy transition.…

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The draining of the East Anglia Fens: social unrest, design flaws and unintended environmental consequences

2010-10-06 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 27s

This episode examines the history of the Fens of East Anglia in England. The Fens originally consisted of wetlands which have been artificially drained since the Middle Ages and continue to be protected from floods by a system of drains, dams and pumps. Much of this work was carried out during the 17th century. With the support of this drainage and coastal protection system and because of its fertility, the Fens have become a major agricultural region in Britain. The story of the reclamation of the fens is one of social unrest, design flaws, money problems and unintended environmental consequences. The guest on this episode of the podcast is Julie Bowring, a PhD candidate at Yale University and she is in the final stages of writing up a dissertation on the so-called Great Level of the Fens in Cambridgeshire, England. Music credit: The Pond by Chuck Berglund, available from ccMixter…

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The First World War and the transformation of forestry in British Columbia

2010-07-19 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 19s

During the Second World War thousands of foresters left British Columbia and other parts of Canada to serve in the Canadian Forestry Corps in Europe. The Forestry Corps was set up to help European allies producing sufficient amounts of timber from their forests for the war effort. In Europe, these Canadian foresters were confronted with intensive forest management techniques, unknown to them back home. After the War British and other European governments appealed to Canada for tree seed to replant the devastated European forests. To meet this demand the British Columbia provincial government established a system for fir cone harvesting, seed extraction and overseas shipment. In this episode David Brownstein of the University of British Columbia explains how the coincidence of the exposure of Canadian foresters to European forestry management practice and the post-war seed collection were to transform Canadian forestry, leading to the abandonment of the policy of natural regeneration. Music credit: The Way by Pitx, available from ccMixter…

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Island Environmental Histories: the Ogasawara Islands

2010-07-09 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 26s

Islands are complex ecological objects produced through flows of flora, coral polyps, human migration, and global capital.  They are places that are constantly being changed through human and non-human action.  Therefore, they are wonderfully rich sites for environmental historians, not to mention cultural, economic, and historians of science, to examine.  They are less miniature worlds than they are places made by the convergence of worlds. In this podcast Colin Tyner, a PhD candidate at the University of California, Santa Cruz, examines the Ogasawara Island group and it environmental histories. Colin will illustrate how different social, cultural and natural worlds converged on the Ogasawara Islands. Music credit: Aerofonia by Mario Mattioli, available from ccMixter…

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Mountains, the Asiatic Black Bear and conservation in Japan and New Zealand

2010-05-20 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 24s

This episode of Exploring Environmental History features an interview with Japanologist and environmental historian Cath Knight. In her spare time she maintains the blog envirohistory NZ which explores the environmental history of New Zealand. On the podcast Cath briefly talks about the origins and topics of the blog before exploring her work on Japanese environmental history. She will discuss Japanese conservation history, in particular in relation to the Asiatic brown bear and the conceptualisation of uplands and mountains in Japanese and Maori folklore. Music credit: Time Decay by morgantj available from ccMixter…

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Volcanoes in European history

2010-04-21 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 11s

On 14 April 2010 the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted for a second time in two month after having been dormant for just under 200 years. The second eruption caused an ash plume that was ejected into the stratosphere and transported by the wind to Northwest Europe and all air traffic was shut down. As a result the eruption became a major news story. A secondary reason why the eruption became a major news story is the fact that volcanic ash clouds have not affected Europe in such an immediate way in living memory. But looking at the historical record of volcanic eruptions it becomes clear that these events have affected Europe and other parts of the world in significant ways and sometimes even altered the course of history. This extra edition of the Exploring Environmental History podcast considers a small sample of such volcanic event events, including the 536 AD dust veil event, the Black Death and the Laki eruption of 1783. Music credit: Revolve by hisboyelroy available from ccMixter…

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Distance learning environmental history and Scottish forestry

2010-04-07 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 20s

The creation of a conventional classroom based environmental history course is challenging because of the diversity of topics involved. A distance learning course delivered trough the Web is even more challenging. This requires a different approach to integrate written material, audio, video, map material and online datasets and to put it in a coherent package to make it relevant to the context of each student. This edition of the podcast features Richard Rodger, Professor in Social and Economic History at the University of Edinburgh, who talks about a new distance learning masters programme in Landscape, Environment and History. This interview is followed by an extract from a video lecture about Scottish forest history to illustrate the type of content that the masters programme has on offer. Jan Oosthoek talks in this interview about the importance of land management agencies such as the British Forestry Commission in influencing the appearance, nature and use of the landscape in modern times. Music credit: Piano Sketch 01 by Mario Mattioli available from ccMixter…

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Empire and Environmental Anxiety

2010-03-06 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 21s

At present there are many environmental anxieties related to pollution, species extinction, climate change, acid deposition and many others. However, environmental anxieties are nothing new and were also experienced during the colonial period of the 19th and early 20th century. Colonial authorities and settlers in the British Empire encountered unfamiliar environments and the combination with environmental changes caused by their activities led to widespread environmental anxieties. The most important concern was anxiety over climate change. In 19th century debates surrounding this issue, highly emotive, highly alarmist arguments were made that are very similar to the ones used today. In this episode, James Beattie, Senior Lecturer at the Department of History of the University of Waikato in New Zealand explores these anxieties of settlers, scientist and colonial officials in India, Australia and New Zealand. Music credit: Terra Incognita by ditto ditto available from ccMixter…

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Environmental History of the 2012 Olympic site: The Lower River Lea

2010-02-10 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 26s

Former industrial sites are constantly reinvented and redeveloped reflecting changes in economies and societies over time. Nowhere else in Europe is regeneration of a former industrial site more spectacular than the 2012 Olympic site on the banks of the River Lea in West Ham, East London. The creation of the Olympic park promises the rehabilitation of the Lower Lea Valley by restoring its eco-system and revitalising the community of the area. The Lower River Lea has a long history, going as far back as the 11th centry, of industrial development and associated environmental degeneration. Jim Clifford, a doctoral student at York University in Toronto, talks in this episode of the podcast about the environmental and social history of West Ham and the Lower Lea River. He highlights that there have been attempts in the earlier 20th century to improve the Lea River’s environmental and social conditions but that the high expectations of these schemes were not always met. Music credit: Trawnicing by Pitx available from ccMixter…

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Green Colonialism in Zimbabwe

2010-01-06 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 21s

This edition of the podcast is devoted to the environmental history of colonial Zimbabwe. Vimbai Kwashirai, Lecturer in African History at Durham University, examines the debates and processes of woodland exploitation in Zimbabwe during the colonial period (1890-1980). He is doing this along the lines of Richard Grove’s thesis of Green Imperialism, but he goes beyond that by placing conservation and forest history into the broader social, political and economic history of Zimbabwe and the wider British Empire.…

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Historical climatology and the cultural memory of extreme weather events

2009-12-11 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 19s

In this episode Professor emeritus in history Christian Pfister, Fellow of the Oeschger Centre of Climate Research at the University of Bern examines the cultural memory of extreme weather events. In the past people experienced extreme weather in different ways depending on whether they lived in an agricultural society, an urban environment or in what profession they worked. Political and religious structures also influenced the response to weather related disasters. This coloured the narrative and memory of past extreme weather events and floods. Pfister demonstrates that this qualitative data is surprisingly objective and can be successfully used for climate reconstruction, producing surprising results.…

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Environmental history of the Middle Ages

2009-11-26 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 22s

In this episode, Dolly Jorgensen, a researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway explains what the online Environmental History Network for the Middle Ages all about. Then she explores the main themes of medieval environmental history and talks about her own work on resource management and sanitation during the Middle Ages. Music credit: Cello Frevo by short hopper, available from ccMixter…

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Biological invasions, culture and biodiversity in South Africa

2009-11-04 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 24s

The guest on this episode of the podcast is William Beinart, Rhodes Professor of race relations and director the African Studies Centre in Oxford. Professor Beinart critiques Alfred Crosby’s idea of ecological imperialism. He argues that from the vantage point of Africa, part of the old world, Crosby’s discussion of asymmetrical plant exchange is problematic. Many species from the America’s were highly successful in Africa. He suggests that demographically, economically, and socially, the benefits have outweighed the costs of such invasive plants as prickly pear from Mexico and black wattle from Australia. The ecological costs have been greater but they are difficult to value. The podcast concludes with some brief comments on the relevance of a more flexible and less purist approach to concepts of biodiversity, and how this might be adapted to cater for transferred plants. …

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Biological invasions and transformations in history

2009-10-12 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 21s

This episode of the podcast reports on a one day conference examining biological invasions in history that was held at the Universiy of Oxford in September 2009. This podcast highlights two papers presented at this meeting. Glenn Sandiford, a postdoc researcher at the University of Illinois, talks about his paper entitled: 19th century narratives on the introduction of carp in America. The second guest on the podcast is Bernadette Hince of the Australian National University who presented a paper examining the history and impacts of invasive species on sub-Antarctic islands. The podcast ends with a brief summary of the themes and research issues that had emerged at the end of the conference. Music credits: Finally (just guitars) by HC-7, available from ccmixter.org. …

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Environmental history: an applied science

2009-09-07 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 28s

This podcast essay puts environmental history in a theoretical and practical framework and considers why this area of study differs from other flavours of history. It will discuss what the narrative of environmental is and how this is researched illustrated by some practical examples of how environmental historians work. Finally the podcast considers the ethical dimension and the pitfalls and advantages of the contemporary importance of environmental history as part of current environmental issues. This is part four of a four-part series of podcasts investigating the nature, methods and challenges of environmental history. Music credits: Sand Castle by Pitx, Kokokur by Pitx Ana's Guitar, Open Window by Gurdonark. All available from ccmixter.org. …

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Environmental history: a transatlantic perspective

2009-06-29 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 11s

In this edition Marc Hall, Assistant Professor at the Universities of Utah and Zurich, considers the question if there are different regional flavours of environmental history. He is well placed to do so with his transatlantic institutional affiliations. In addition he argues that environmental history has moved beyond the question of how we got into the environmental problems that we are facing at present. Now environmental historians consider how and why people have changed ecosystems and how in return the environment changes people in the way they act and think. This opens up a whole new set of question for historians to address making environmental history potentially a dynamic field. But what is the future of the field? …

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Environmental history: definitions, methods and challenges

2009-06-09 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 18s

Environmental history is still a young field and in some respects quite undefined. Many practitioners as well as outsiders struggle to define its boundaries. The challenge that historians are now facing is how to cope with an ever expanding field and how to integrate not only data from other humanities but also the sciences. In this edition of the podcast Paul Warde, Reader in modern history at the University of East Anglia, agues that not defining the boundaries of the field or a common methodology is key to the success of environmental history but also its weakness. It brings excitement and new ideas to history but in the end, if environmental history stays too diverse; it is not clear where it is going. How to deal with this problem is one of the key issues discussed in this edition of the podcast. …

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Donald Worster on environmental history

2009-05-26 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 12s

The guest on this episode of Exploring Environmental History is Donald Worster, Hall Distinguished Professor of American History at the University of Kansas. He is one of the leading figures in the field of environmental history and has contributed much to its development and methodology. His scholarship and publications has stimulated historians, scientists and others to consider the relationships between humans and nature in history. In this interview Worster considers the nature of environmental history, the question if there are common methodological approaches that brings the field together and the challenges that lay ahead. …

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Disasters, history and cultures of coping

2008-11-26 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 16s

The inter-relationship of human beings and the natural world, and the influence of the physical environment on a community’s social and cultural development, is very well demonstrated in societies that face the persistent threat and reality of disasters. A prime example is the Philippines. Although western social sciences typically depict disasters as abnormal occurrences, communities and individuals in the Philippines have come to accept hazard and disaster as a frequent life experience. Indeed, in a number of respects, Filipino cultures can be regarded as the product of community adaptation to these phenomena. Appreciating that there are both cultures of disaster and cultures of coping in all societies fosters an understanding of such events in terms of people’s vulnerabilities and their resilience to withstand them through strengthening existing capacities. In this episode of the podcast Greg Bankoff, professor of modern non-western history at the University of Hull explores how disasters shape the history as well as the social and cultural development of societies, in paricular that of the Philippines. …

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Great Floods of Northumbria, 1771-2008

2008-11-21 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 19s

The topic of this episode of Exploring Environmental History is the history of severe river flooding in the north east of England. With the floods in the town of Morpeth in September 2008 fresh in the minds of people in Northern England it seems appropriate to look back in time to great historic floods and to see whether the rivers of Northumberland have produced even greater floods than those experienced recently. The guest on this podcast is David Archer, a retired hydrologist who worked for Northumbrian Water and the National Rivers Authority, and an expert on the history of floods in the North east of England. He will explore the great floods in the Tyne basin of the past 250 years and even beyond. In addition David will discuss what historical sources are used for the reconstruction of past floods and how such information can be used for current flood risk management. …

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Environmental histories of settlement in Canada and New Zealand

2008-07-10 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 21s

This edition of the podcast is devoted to two countries of European Settlement: New Zealand and Canada. Both countries received a significant number of settlers from Scotland and Ireland. Did these groups bring a particular set of land management techniques with them that had a particular impact on the landscape and environment? Did a particular conservation ethic develop among Scottish and Irish settlers? Tom Brooking of Otago University discusses these questions in this podcast. In addition he is looking at the unique nature of the environmental history of New Zealand and how the country has become as cultivated as most “old world” countries. In the second part of the podcast Alan MacEachern, a historian of the University of Western Ontario, explores the confrontation of European settlers with the extensive forests in eastern Canada through the Mirimichi fire of 1825. This fire is considered to be one of the largest ever recorded on the east coast of North America since European settlement. The fire took settlers by surprise because it was on a scale unknown to immigrants coming from a largely deforested continent. Alan discusses the causes of the fire, the responses to the fire and how it was reported in the European press. Websites mentioned: niche.uwo.ca/ anneisaman.blogspot.com/ …

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Artifact or natural? The history of Flanders Moss in Scotland

2008-05-19 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 17s

This episode of the podcast returns to Scotland for a look at the environmental history of Flanders Moss, a raised peat bog west of Stirling. John Harrison, a historian from Stirling, reveals why the moss is the product of millennia of human use and exploitation. In addition he will address the questions what the moss looked before human intervention, why large parts of the moss were cleared during the 18th and 19th centuries, and some of the environmental consequences of the clearance. The podcast will also dispel the myth that the moss was once an impassible barrier, with Stirling Bridge the only place where it could be crossed. Finally, the history of Flanders Moss during more recent times, including a proposal to mine the peat to fuel a power station, and its role in the 21st century as the largest raised bog in lowland Scotland will be briefly discussed. Website mentioned in this podcast: www.snh.org.uk/nnr-scotland/…

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Archaeology, History and Climate Change

2008-04-11 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 17s

This podcast highlights two papers presented at a conference entitled An End to History? Climate Change, the Past and the Future that that was held at the Birmingham and Midland Institute in Birmingham on 3 April 2008. The papers presented addressed the issue what we can or can not learn from the experiences of past societies which have coped with climate or environmental change. In this episode Gill Chitty, Head of Conservation of The Council for British Archaeology, explores the important contributions that archaeology can make to the national debate about climate change. Jim Galloway of the Centre for Metropolitan History, Institute of Historical Research in London, reviews the evidence of the impact of storm surges on the lands bordering the Thames Estuary during the fourteenth century. Website mentioned in this podcast: Rescue!History: rescue-history-from-climate-change.org/…

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Urban air pollution in historical perspective

2008-02-16 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 24s

Urban air pollution is certainly not a new problem. During the Middle Ages the use of coal in cities such as London was beginning to increase. By the the 17th century the problems of urban air pollution are well documented. The Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries was based on the use of coal. In addition the burning of coal in homes for domestic heat pusehed urban air pollution levels further up with sometime disastrous results. The Great London Smog of 1952 resulted in around 4,000 extra deaths in the city, and led to the introduction of the Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968. The problems realated to air pollution, past and present, are well known but less known is the cultural history attached to air pollution. In this edition of Exploring Environmental History Stephen Mosley of Leeds Metropolitan Univeristy will explore how Victorians and Edwardians viewed air pollution and how they dealt with it. He also suggests that there is a continuation of perceptions of air pollution that links us with the Victorians.…

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The environmental shadow of apartheid and rinder pest

2007-12-15 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 20s

Second of two episodes devoted to environmental history of South Africa. In this episode South African historian Phia Steyn explores the environmental consequences of the industrial development and militarization of South Africa during the Apartheid era and how it influenced environmental policies in the post-apartheid period. In the second half of the podcast Phia talks about her present research which looks at the origins of the African rinder pest outbreak and its consequences for the young Orange Free State in the 1890s.…

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Botanists, colonists and local knowledge of nature in South Africa

2007-11-29 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 26s

First of two episodes devoted to environmental history of South Africa. South Africa is one of the most culturally and ecologically diverse countries in the world. Different cultures interpret and understand nature in different ways and that was nowhere more visible than in colonial South Africa. In this episode Elizabeth Green-Musselman, a historian of science, explores how a hybridized knowledge of nature developed in the cape colony blending local and European knowledge. The issues discussed include the impact of European cultivation, conflicts over natural resources and the role of naturalists in conservation and what they learned from local guides during botanical expeditions during the 18th and 19th centuries. The podcast concludes with a brief consideration of the benefits of the interactions and collaboration between environmental historians and historians of science. Websites mentioned in this podcast: Missing Link Podcast, missinglinkpodcast.wordpress.com African Environmental History, www.bu.edu/africa/envr/index.html…

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The ozone hole, climate change and the Canadian Arctic

2007-10-07 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 21s

This edition of the podcast explores the story of the ozone hole during the 1970s and 80s and what lessons can be learned from this environmental problem for dealing with global warming. It suggests that not applying the cautionary principle to the ozone thinning in the 1970s led to the emergence of the so called hole in the ozone layer. In the second half of the podcast Liza Piper explores the question how the arctic environment shaped Northern Canadian society during the last stages of the Little Ice age and why this is relevant for the present. Websites mentioned in this podcast: Nasa ozone website, www.nas.nasa.gov/About/Education/Ozone/history.html; NiCHE website, niche.uwo.ca…

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History and sustainability

2007-09-16 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 32s

This edition of the podcast reports on a conference entitled History and Sustainability which was held at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences on 6 and 7 September 2007. The podcast explores how history can make contributions to the debate about sustainability and the education of sustainability. This is an exercise in thinking about the theoretical and methodological challenges that the discipline faces as well as the question of the place of environmental history in the academic spectrum and curriculum. Paul Warde, co-organiser of the conference, explains the rationale of the meeting, which is that sustainability, as a concept can only be understood historically because it is about survival over time. Sverker Sorlin, explains why we need to infuse the environment as a concept into historical thinking and that environmental historians play a crucial role in this process. Kate Showers, Research Fellow at the University of Sussex, talks about the importance of disciplinary synthesis for environmental history. Finally, Libby Robin of the National Australian Museum explores the the long now and the big here. Websites mentioned in this podcast: Long Now Foundation website, www.longnow.org; Missing link podcast, missinglinkpodcast.com…

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Humanities, Climate Change and Digital (Environmental) History

2007-08-07 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 33s

Mark Levene, founder of Rescue!History, discusses why historians and other humanities scholars should get involved and contribute to the debate and understanding of global warming. Bill Turkell, environmental and digital historian at the the University of Western Ontario, explains how historians can make better use of the web, looks at the developement of an online environmental history research infrastructure in Canada and how the use of programming languages can improve historical instruction. Websites mentioned in this episode include: rescue-history-from-climate-change.org, www.crisis-forum.org.uk, digitalhistoryhacks.blogspot.com.…

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Environmental Connections: Europe and the Wider World

2007-06-13 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 41s

This special edition of Exploring Environmental History reports on the fourth conference of the European Society for Environmental History which was held at the Free University Amsterdam from 5 to 9 June 2007. The podcast will highlight some of the themes of the conference and includes interviews with presenters on the following topics: the history of pollution in the Franco-German border region, environmental history of the polar regions, marine environmental history and environmental history of war.…

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Scottish Environmental History

2007-05-24 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 17s

Podcast exploring recent developments in Scottish Environmental History. Richard Oram, Director of the Centre for Research in Environmental History, University of Stirling, talks about how the entire Scottish landscape has been exploited for hundreds of years; the transformation of land management practices; energy resource management, including wood, peat and coal and how people responded to fuel shortages in the past; woodland management; the organisation of the landscape into Davochs and urban environmental history.…

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Australian environmental and forest history

2007-01-26 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 30s

This podcast is entirely devoted to Australian environmental history. Libby Robin talks about the unique nature of Australian environmental history including the connection between deep and modern history, poor soils, fire, Aboriginal history and European settlement. John Dargavel, former president of the Australian Forest History Society discusses the issues and interests in Australian forest history.…

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Climate history and a forest journey

2006-12-09 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 30s

In this episode climatologist Dennis Wheeler discusses the use of 18th and 19th century ship logs for historical climate reconstruction. In the latter half of the podcast John Perlin talks about world forest history and the publication of the second edition of his book "A Forest Journey". …

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Marine Environmental History

2006-10-25 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 27s

In this edition Poul Holm talks about the development of the new sub-field of Marine Environmental History and the History of Marine Animal Populations Project. The second part of the podcast explores the history of fisheries on the River Forth at Stirling in Scotland. Finally, Petra van Dam talks about the fourth conference of the European Society for Environmental History, which will be held in Amsterdam in 2007. …

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History of flood defences and waste

2006-07-22 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 18s

This podcast looks at the thousand year history of river flood protection in the Netherlands and a report on a conference exploring the complex nature of the relationship between modernity and waste.…

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Resources, the past and the present

2006-05-23 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 22s

Report on the annual meeting of British Environmental Historians held at the Open University in Milton Keynes on 19 May 2006. The theme of this day conference was the use of sources in Environmental History. Interviews with participants cover the use of historical records in modern resource management, the Soil Association and Lady Eve Balfour and the history of the stratosphere. …

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Rivers run through them: Landscapes in environmental history

2006-04-10 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 31s

Joint meeting of the American Society for Environmental History and Forest History Society held in St Paul, Minnesota, 29 March-1 April 2006. Snapshots of some papers presented and interviews with the president of the Forest History Society, with some participants and a short report on one of the field trips.…

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Themes in environmental history

2006-03-16 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 23s

What are the important themes in environmental history? This podcast will examine some of the major themes in environmental history which have emerged over the past few decades. Themes include climate history, economic activity and the environment, fire history and pollution history, to mention only a few. The guest in this podcast is David Moon, Reader at the University of Durham, and he will talk about the environmental history of the Russian steppes.…

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What is environmental history?

2006-03-02 :: Jan Oosthoek
Length: 18s

Environmental history is a rapidly expanding subfield of history. This podcast will introduce listeners to what environmental history is and why it is needed. In the second part of the podcast Fred Milton, a postgraduate student at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, talks about his work on the development of children’s environmental societies in the period between about 1870-1914 in Britain.…

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Exploring Environmental History

Exploring Environmental History is the podcast about human societies and the environment in the past.

Exploring Environmental History


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