Jocelyn Thorpe, Stephanie Rutherford, and L. Anders Sandberg (cds.). Methodological Challenges in Nature-Culture and Environmental History Research. (Shorter Notice)

Author: Henna Ahsan
Publication Year : 2018

Jocelyn Thorpe, Stephanie Rutherford, and L. Anders Sandberg (cds.). Methodological Challenges in Nature-Culture and Environmental History Research. Oxon, U.K.: Routledge. 2017.322 pages. U.K. £ 92.00 (Hardback). For most of the research being done in the world presently, the main source is human archives. However, a new challenge is being faced by the humans that should not the non-human actors be considered more, or at least equally, important while conducting these researches, and is not all the research conducted so far human-biased. This is the core argument of this book, which is a result of a round table conference held in Guimaraes, Portugal at the World Congress of Environmental History in 2014. This book examines the challenges and possibilities of conducting cultural environmental history research today. It is a collection of essays contributed by different writers from diverse fields and disciplines to broaden the scope of current research practices to include the non-human actors like glaciers, oceans, animals, and landscapes. The book is divided into four sections and 23 chapters in total. Section 1 discusses the role of non-human actors like glaciers, which are the main exhibitor of any climatic changes. It discusses how different changes occurred in them and how could it contribute to natural, cultural, and environmental history research. An interesting part in this section discusses that how the howl of wolves in Canada changed over time and how it could provide us information to conduct our research with the help of these non-human actors. The second section discusses the challenge of removing the colonial effect from the res~arch conducted in the past. The authors explain that the role of indigenous ways of knowing is very important. The third section is related to sense perception, i.e. how, with the passage of time, our palate developed different tastes for different types of foods and also how the sense of smell could contribute in natural, cultural, and environmental history research. Finally, Section 4 discusses role of digital apparatus, mainly the Internet, in conducting this research apart from conventional methods. A major advantage of this is the reachability of a researcher to non-academic audience. This non-academic audience could playa vital role by providing the unique data that could not even be found in past academic archives. As a whole, this collection of essays shows how we do our work matters fundamentally for what kind of work we do because how one does research is at least as important as the outcome of the research. [Henna Ahsan]