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Arts & Culture

Valuing Nature: Histories of everyday engagement with the environment in France, Britain, and their Empires, 1600-present


How has the natural world been valued, and how have different types of engagement with nature and environment been valued?

Previous studies have focused largely on the intellectual history of the natural sciences, and how concepts like ‘the environment’ and ‘biodiversity’ were defined by scholars before trickling down to various publics. By contrast, Valuing Nature will adopt a bottom-up approach.

Focusing on France, Britain, and their empires, we will consider how practical engagement with plants, animals, landscapes, seascapes, natural materials and climate have been crucial to changing understandings and valuations of the natural world.

We will centre on everyday engagements with nature, whether by taxidermists, craftsmen, educators, amateur botanists, or Indigenous people. Our aim is to broaden understandings of the actors involved in the growth of environmental consciousness, while thinking about how different skills and forms of knowledge have been variously valued, shaping epistemological hierarchies to this day.


Photo by Alexandra Kiaz on Unsplash 

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    University of Paris

    Project status: Ongoing

    Principal Investigator

    • Chris Manias

      Chris Manias

      Senior Lecturer in the History of Science & Technology


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