Planet, species, justice—and the stories we tell about them

Authored by: Ursula K. Heise

The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities

Print publication date:  January  2017
Online publication date:  January  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138786745
eBook ISBN: 9781315766355
Adobe ISBN: 9781317660194


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The environmental humanities have emerged as a new interdisciplinary matrix over the last decade, accompanied by programmatic statements, new journals, conferences, research initiatives, and the first few academic programs in Australia, Western Europe, and North America. The label of this research area follows a formula of innovation across a whole range of emergent fields that combines the term “studies” or “humanities” with a concept that has in the past been the purview of disciplines outside the humanities and qualitative social sciences: digital humanities, disability studies, food studies, human–animal studies, and medical humanities, for example. Unlike most of these fields, the environmental humanities do not so much propose a new object of study, a new humanistic perspective on a nonhumanistic field, or a particular set of new methods, as they combine humanistic perspectives and methods that have already developed in half a dozen or so disciplines over the last four decades. Environmental philosophy, for example, emerged in the 1970s, environmental history in the 1980s, and ecocriticism in the early 1990s. Although each of them struggled for a decade or more to be fully accredited by its own discipline, their academic recognition has in recent years opened up the possibility of closer collaborations with neighboring disciplines such as environmental anthropology, cultural geography, and areas in political science and urban studies that converge around the theoretical paradigm of “political ecology.”

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