Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, Vol 4, No 2(2010): Forests of Belonging: The Contested Meaning of Trees and Forests in Indian Hinduism

The Reciprocal Relationship of Culture and Environment in Asia: Two Recent Environmental Histories of South and Southeast Asia

Albertina Nugteren
Issued Date: 11 Jul 2010


Peter Boomgaard, Southeast Asia: An Environmental History (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2007), 377 pp., $62.05 (hbk), ISBN 978-1-85109-419-6.

Christopher V. Hill, South Asia: An Environmental History (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2008), 329 pp., $84.99 (hbk), ISBN 978-1- 85109-925-2.

These two volumes together present, in some 700 pages, a historically layered view of how the natural world in South and Southeast Asia has been transformed by human civilisation. But more than writing merely a history of the environment, the authors also examine the decisive impact environmental factors have had on world affairs and vice versa. This makes the two books, published in the Nature and Human Societies series (visit for a complete list of their titles) recommended background reading for scholars who find themselves uneasy with the widespread assumption that so-called ‘non-Western’ or ‘Oriental’ civilisations are eco-friendly and environmentally conscious, or at least more so than the practitioners of Abrahamic religions. These two histories provide a corrective to these ideas.

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DOI: 10.1558/jsrnc.v4i2.239


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