ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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India's Environmental Past

Shifting Ground: People, Animals, and Mobility in India’s Environmental History edited by Mahesh Rangarajan and K Sivaramakrishnan, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014; pp 418, Rs 875.

Interest in matters related to environment and ecology has generated critical debate and investigation for over three decades leading to a rapidly expanding discourse. There has been a sharp increase in environmental concerns and activism leading to research interests in the twin stories of the human impact on natural environment and environment’s manifold influences on humans.

The discussion, though providing major insights, has often been in segments that focus on one aspect or theme at a time such as land, forests, wildlife, people, biodiversity or simply the environment, often invoking stereotyped, rigid periodisation of history. Such ideas presuppose that there is a “natural” environment which is separate from the people who live in it. In such an understanding culture can appear as an epiphenomenon or commentary on that environment. Moreover, the understanding within the conventional scheme of periodising history as ancient/medieval/modern/contemporary creates artificial and pervasive divides between natural and humanistic disciplines and prevents connections that are significant and necessary to be established.

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