Greening by Brushing up on Your History and Anthropology


Whenever we talk about greening, we’ll always think of the scientific aspects of it: climate change, global warming, greenhouse gases, carbon footprint, ecological balance and all that. But have we ever reflected back to history and anthropological studies of the environment? As Confucius once said, “Study the past if you would divine the future”.

That’s what the National University of Singapore aimed to achieve when they organized the 2-day conference - Asian Environments Shaping the World: Conceptions of Nature and Environmental Practices from the 20-21 March 2009.

Featuring reputable figures such as Prof. James C. Scott from Yale University, Prof. Robert Weller from Boston University, Prof. Masayoshi Nakawo from National Institute for the Humanities (Japan), and Assoc. Prof. Victor Savage from NUS, these speakers brought up issues about how the ideology of nature that we practice right now are adaptations to political and socio-economic changes.

Each speaker presented very illuminating theories about human behavior towards the environment. I’ll just provide one of the more interesting ones here. Prof. Robert Weller from Boston University illustrated how the spread of Western ideology of nature to the East in the early 20th century has impacted the environment for the worse. By splitting nature and culture to two separate entities instead of the ancient united belief, we have come to think of nature as an item to serve humanity. Even the more recent Romanticism idea where environmentalists are seeking to save nature from humanity itself is no better than the former idea as we are still treating nature as a separate entity.

Prof. Robert’s provocative theory was not the only fascinating one, so for more abstracts and draft papers by these speakers, you can visit this site.

One Response to “Greening by Brushing up on Your History and Anthropology”

  1. Back in the 1940’s while in elementary and high school,
    I recall being taught that our planet occasionally wobbles and tilts a fraction of a degree in either the
    eastern or western position. This is caused by the sun
    and when we tilt toward the east, the Gulf Stream wends
    its way a bit northward causing the middle east coast of
    the U.S to enjoy milder winters. This phenomenon does
    not occur overnight and I dare say that after this winter, we are beginning to wobble once again and will
    tilt westward. This was one frigid winter.

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