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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Man and the Natural World: Reflections on History and Anthropology

Jack Goody

Environment and History 2(1996): 255-69

The efforts of both anthropologists and historians have been weakened by a failure to take into account what the other half were doing. Anthropologists have tended to see nature and culture as too harmoniously related in the simpler societies, overlooking evidence of the kind of ambivalence that is often regarded as typical of later societies. Modern historians, on the other hand, have tended to see new feelings of nature emerging in their chosen period. In Keith Thomas's Man and the Natural World, for example, the idea of development is closely tied to notions of the Enlightenment. A discussion of the cultural history of flowers demonstrates that what seems from a local point of view to be a rapid advance towards the modern may in fact be a catching up with other great traditions, earlier as well as wider.

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