World Environment Day 

On World Environment Day, we focus our attention on the restoration and revival of ecosystems around the world and think about how to interact with and take action in a rapidly changing world.   

Drawing from disciplines ranging from conservation to media studies, these five titles showcase a range of approaches to understanding how human attitudes toward nature have shaped our cultures and our environments. They investigate how we understand the past and the present, and explore how we might respond for the future in a meaningful way.

Edited by Luis I Prádanos 

From the scars left by Franco’s dams and mines to the toxic waste dumped in Equatorial Guinea, from the cruelty of the modern pork industry to the ravages of mass tourism in the Balearic Islands, this book delves into the power relations, material practices and social imaginaries underpinning the global economic system to uncover its unaffordable human and non-human costs. Guiding the reader through the rapidly emerging field of Spanish environmental cultural studies, with chapters on such topics as extractivism, animal studies, food studies, ecofeminism, decoloniality, critical race studies, tourism, and waste studies, an international team of US and European scholars show how Spanish writers, artists, and filmmakers have illuminated and contested the growth-oriented and neo-colonialist assumptions of the current Capitalocene era. Focussed on Spain, the volume also provides models for exploring the socioecological implications of cultural manifestations in other parts of the world.  

Book jacket image: A Companion to Spanish Environmental Cultural Studies

Edited by John Parham

Much as the complexities of climate change and the Anthropocene have queried the limits and exclusions of literary representation, so, too, have the challenges recently presented by climate activism and intersectional environmentalism, animal rights, and even the power of material forms, such as oil, plastic, and heavy metals. Social and protest movements have revived the question of whether there can be such a thing as an activist ecocriticism: can such an approach only concern itself with consciousness, or might it politicise literary criticism in a new way? Attempting to respond, this volume coalesces around three interrelated strands: material ecologies, past and present British politics, and the act of writing itself. Can we bring a more sustainable planet into being by focusing on those literary forms which have the ability to imagine the conditions and systems needed to do so? 

Book jacket image: The Literature and Politics of the Environment 

The Land, the Trees, and the People
by Lisa Elena Fuchs

The eastern part of the Mau Forest, the most important closed-canopy forest in East Africa, has come under severe threat since the 1990s. In this political ecology Lisa Fuchs exploring the failure of the government-led forest restoration and rehabilitation initiative to ‘Save the Mau’, launched in 2009, the author examines two of the most contentious issues in Kenya since colonial times: land and the environment. She sheds light on the structural factors and the role of individuals in the forest’s destruction and of non-protection and traces the colonial legacy of post-independent environmental conservation policies and practices. In doing so, Fuchs demonstrates that the Mau crisis is more than an environmental crisis: it is also a political, an economic, and a socio-cultural crisis. 

The book highlights that local types of environmentalism are caught between the ‘invention of traditions’ and ‘perverse modernisation’ and shows the contradictory effects of the celebrated, highly anticipated but poorly executed ‘Save the Mau’ initiative, and how the presence of political will to maintain the crisis conditioned its perseverance. Finally, the book proposes realistic alternatives to sustainable forest management in politicised environments, whose relevance and applicability are considerable in this age of anthropogenic ‘environmental’ crises and conflicts. 

Book jacket image: A Political Ecology of Kenya’s Mau Forest 

Comparative Contexts
Edited by Michael D.J. Bintley and Pippa Salonius

Forests, with their interlacing networks of trees and secret patterns of communication, are powerful entities for thinking-with. A majestic terrestrial community of arboreal others, their presence echoes, entangles, and resonates deeply with the human world. 

The chapters interrogate the pre-Anthropocene environment, reflecting on trees as metaphors for kinship and knowledge as they appear in literary, historical, art-historical, and philosophical sources. They examine images of trees and trees in-themselves across a range of environmental, material, and intellectual contexts, and consider how humans used arboreal and rhizomatic forms to negotiate bodies of knowledge and processes of transition. Looking beyond medieval Europe, they include discussion of parallel developments in the Islamic world and that of the Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. 

Book jacket image: Trees as Symbol and Metaphor in the Middle Ages 

Culture, Nature, Heritage
Edited by Ian Convery, Owen Nevin, Erwin van Maanen, Peter Davis and Karen Lloyd

Few animals arouse such strong opinion as the wolf. It occupies a contested, ambiguous, yet central role in human culture and heritage. It appears as both an inspirational emblem of the wild and an embodiment of evil. Offering a mirror to different human attitudes, beliefs, and values, the wolf is, arguably, the species that plays the greatest role in shaping our views on what nature is or should be. 

North America and, more recently, Europe have witnessed a remarkable return of the grey wolf (Canis lupus, and its close relative the Eurasian wolf, Canis lupus lupus) to eco-systems. The essays collected here explore aspects of this recovery, and consider the history, literature and myth surrounding this iconic species. The book explores the challenges of separating fact from fiction and superstition, and our willingness to co-exist with large carnivores in the twenty-first century.

Book jacket image: The Wolf

Related blog posts

Subscribe to the Boydell & Brewer blog via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

* indicates required

Recent Posts