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Reply to HIRSCHSTEIN NICK’s Reflection by Yaqi Fu
Thanks very much for your thoughtful and broad reflection on both history and environmental sides.
In your reflection, first you wanted to figure out what is the main utility of history. From Gunnel’s book, you found the approach is looking history forwards, not backwards. I think this would be interesting if you can explain this “forwards thinking” idea further, because I did not fully notice this idea and from my experience, I am the person who always looks back from the long-standing Chinese history as well.
I find you tried to use history as a reference to overview the British colonial history in India. The comparison view between the British and Dutch is quite inspiring. I am also wondering how the British could learn effectively from the previous experience and what proportion of their policy-making were affected by history factors. I think the British had at least learned some valuable lessons from Dutch and they needed that, for colonial governance is more tricky than domestic issues.
The comparison between China and India in environmental issues is interesting and also needs to do cautiously. As you mentioned, China and India have quite a lot differences. In my mind, the differences are probably much larger. Huge population is one of the main reason that I can imagine causes many problems in the two countries. Besides that, what are the similarities that can effectively bridge the two countries? China and India have different culture, language, climate and history. The natural barriers between China and India really effectively separate the two countries, two cultural circles in history. Now they are still working or “working” in people’s mind. From my perspective, Chinese people know little about India, even less than the British.
I can imagine the monsoon in India changes the landscape obviously in different seasons. You wondered how much evidence on rapid environment changes in 1800, which I think is a very good question with great significance in understanding boundary vicissitude. The British rigid attitude is another thing that I did not pay much attention to. The resource insufficiency which is a rewarding question deserves to think twice. But sorry I am not able to say much about this.
Reply To: 1. Mon 3 Feb: Course intro & India and the Environmental History of Imperialism
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