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Jocelyn Thorpe co-edits new collection

Increasingly, the field of environmental studies is recognising that many contemporary global crises – ocean pollution and resource depletion, global warming, urban sprawl, overpopulation, food insecurity, to name a few – are fundamentally crises of culture.

The need to understand and find adaptive solutions to our present and future environmental challenges has shifted the epicenter of environmental studies away from an exclusively scientific and technological framework to one that depends on the human-focused disciplines and ideas of the humanities and allied social sciences – like history.

This shift in focus, however, brings with it myriad methodological challenges for researchers working in these areas. University of Manitoba Women’s Studies professor Jocelyn Thorpe’s new edited collection from Routledge, Methodological Challenges in Nature-Culture and Environmental History Research, addresses some of these challenges.

Co-edited with Stephanie Rutherford of the School of Environment at Trent University, and L. Anders Sandberg, a professor of Environmental Studies at York University, the book officially launched last week at a research cluster talk presented by the University of Manitoba Institute for the Humanities

The book considers the challenges and possibilities of conducting cultural environmental history research today. While disciplinary commitments certainly influence the questions scholars ask and the ways they seek out answers, some methodological challenges go beyond the boundaries of any one discipline. The book specifically addresses these: how can researchers account for the fact that humans are not the only actors in history, yet we dominate archival records? How can researchers attend to the non-visual senses when traditional sources offer only a two-dimensional, non-sensory version of the past? How can researchers decolonize research in and beyond the archives? And finally, how can researchers effectively use sources and means of communication made available in the digital age?

With 23 chapters and contributions from a wide swath of disciplines, this book will be a valuable resource for those interested in environmental history and politics, sustainable development and historical geography. More information on the book can be obtained from the publisher here:

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