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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Environmental and Veterinary History - Some Themes and Suggested Ways Forward

Karen Brown

Environment and History 20 (2014): 547-559. doi: 10.3197/096734014X14091313617361

This article gives an overview of a number of contemporary trends in veterinary and environmental history. It opens with some ideas as to why veterinary history has become more popular in recent years and suggests that the global publicity granted to zoonotic diseases may be part of the reason. Our close links with domestic and indeed wild animals make us susceptible to disease spillovers from other species. The introductory section is followed by some discussion of the European historiography, where infections such as the cattle disease rinderpest have featured strongly. Efforts to control infections such as rinderpest played an important role in strengthening the regulatory power of many European, and indeed colonial, states. The final part focuses on Africa where interviews have indicated strong linkages between the state of the environment and outbreaks of livestock diseases. Finally, there are some suggestions about ways forward, with an emphasis on studies of local knowledge as a prism through which to explore veterinary and environmental histories in tandem.

KEYWORDS: Veterinary science; environment; rinderpest; local knowledge; livestock; zoonoses; veterinary regulations


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