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Title: Nature, politics and the 'disorder of water'. Theories of environmental vulnerability in the Mediterranean (1750-1865)
Authors: Barca, Stefania 
Issue Date: 9-Dec-2010
Publisher: CLICO
Serial title, monograph or event: CLICO Working Papers
Abstract: This paper explores the perception of environmental vulnerability in the Mediterranean between the end of the so called Little Ice Age and the publication of a seminal study in conservation: G.P. Marsh’s Man and Nature (1864). This period is of particular interest to the environmental historian of Europe for two reasons: first, because it was marked by a sensible climatic shift from colder to warmer temperatures. Second, because it also witnessed major political and economic changes with a significant impact on the management of natural resources. Characterized by a general demographic growth, the 18th century brought about widespread privatizations of land and water, and new politics aimed at extending State control over natural resources. Unlike most areas in North Europe, however, Mediterranean regions were characterized by a geography of mountains and hills with a still high population density. The combined effects of climate change and political economy had thus a significant impact on upland populations, and resulted in unequal patterns of social and environmental vulnerability. The paper will first consider some of the available literature on environmental change in the Mediterranean between 1750 and 1865. It will then offer a critical examination of environmental discourse in one particular Mediterranean region, the Apennines of southern Italy. In particular, it will analyse the ‘disorder of water’ theory elaborated by the Neapolitan Enlightenment School as a political-economy explanation of floods and malaria. The paper will finally examine the role that contemporary environmental change in the Mediterranean Apennines played in G.P. Marsh’s Man and Nature (1865), a founding text of early conservationism in the Euro-Atlantic world. This paper is currently submitted for publication with the proceedings of the First International Workshop on the History of Environment and Global Climate Change (Braga, Portugal, 7-8 May 2009).
Rights: openAccess
Appears in Collections:I&D CES - Vários

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