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An Agrarian History of Portugal, 1000-2000

Economic Development on the European Frontier

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Edited by Dulce Freire and Pedro Lains

This book follows the renovation of European economic history towards a more unified interpretation of sources of growth and stagnation. To better understand the diversity of patterns of growth, we need to look beyond the study of the industrialization of the core economies, and explore the centuries before it occurred. Portuguese agriculture was hardly ever at the European productivity and technological forefront and the distance from it varied substantially across the second Millennium. Yet if we look at the periods of the Christian Reconquista, the recovery from the Black Death, the response to the globalization of the Renaissance, to the eighteenth century economic enlightenment, or to nineteenth century industrialization, we may conclude that agriculture in this country of the European periphery was often adaptive and dynamic. The fact that economic backwardness was not overcome by the end of the period is no longer the most relevant aspect of that story.

Contributors are: Luciano Amaral, Amélia Branco, Dulce Freire, António Henriques, Pedro Lains, Susana Münch Miranda, Margarida Sobral Neto, Jaime Reis, Ana Maria Rodrigues, José Vicente Serrão and Ester G. Silva.

Valuing Landscape in Classical Antiquity

Natural Environment and Cultural Imagination

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Edited by Jeremy McInerney and Ineke Sluiter

‘Where am I?’. Our physical orientation in place is one of the defining characteristics of our embodied existence. However, while there is no human life, culture, or action without a specific location functioning as its setting, people go much further than this bare fact in attributing meaning and value to their physical environment. 'Landscape’ denotes this symbolic conception and use of terrain. It is a creation of human culture.
In Valuing Landscape we explore different ways in which physical environments impacted on the cultural imagination of Greco-Roman Antiquity. In seventeen chapters with different disciplinary perspectives, we demonstrate the values attached to mountains, the underworld, sacred landscapes, and battlefields, and the evaluations of locale connected with migration, exile, and travel.

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Demetrius L. Eudell

Abstract

This essay uses the event that was Hurricane Katrina as its endpoint for an analysis of the history of ecological and socio-cultural change in Louisiana. After displacing and transforming Indigenous societies, European settlers had to decide how to establish a different kind of community in such a precarious landscape. This essay argues that a particular understanding not only of the environment but also a conception of Being Human, that of secular Man (if initially only partially so), remained equally relevant. Within the logic of this self/social understanding, a system of levees to address hurricane and storm surge, would be implemented—initially with convict and slave labour, and after the US Civil War, with poorly-compensated (i.e. ‘cheap’), predominantly Black labour. The cultural and environmental questions that emerged in the wake of Katrina should compel a rethinking of the viability of contemporary approaches to organising complex technological societies, and especially, as it relates to the faith in ever-increasing economic growth.

Colonial Survey and Native Landscapes in Rural South Africa, 1850 - 1913

The Politics of Divided Space in the Cape and Transvaal

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Lindsay F. Braun

In Colonial Survey and Native Landscapes in Rural South Africa, 1850 - 1913, Lindsay Frederick Braun explores the technical processes and struggles surrounding the creation and maintenance of boundaries and spaces in South Africa in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The precision of surveyors and other colonial technicians lent these enterprises an illusion of irreproachable objectivity and authority, even though the reality was far messier.

Using a wide range of archival and printed materials from survey departments, repositories, and libraries, the author presents two distinct episodes of struggle over lands and livelihoods, one from the Eastern Cape and one from the former northern Transvaal. These cases expose the contingencies, contests, and negotiations that fundamentally shaped these changing South African landscapes.

Climate and Political Climate

Environmental Disasters in the Medieval Levant

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Sarah Kate Raphael

The twelfth and thirteenth centuries in the Levant saw a substantial rise in the number of droughts. This coincided with some of the most violent tectonic activity the region had witnessed. Nature, however, could conjure other powerful disasters: swarms of locusts, armies of mice, scorching winds and thick dust storms.
The data for this research is drawn from contemporary Arabic and Latin sources. The main aim is to try and determine the long and short-term repercussions of environmental disasters on the political, military and social affairs in the Levant during the Crusader, Ayyubid and Mamluk periods. Did environmental disasters spur or hinder conflict?
This research examines the most destructive disasters and gradual climate changes within a broader historical context.