Reply To: Mon 17 March: Greece and Revisionist Environmental History

Start Forums Courses Current Debates and Themes in Global Environmental History Mon 17 March: Greece and Revisionist Environmental History Reply To: Mon 17 March: Greece and Revisionist Environmental History

Author Replies # Posted on March 18, 2014 at 16:51

I regard Oliver Rackmans approach on ecology and pseudo-ecology as interesting and helpful for people like me who are going to touch and interpret ecology in their research but are not ecologist. Rackmans discussion about factoids and platitudes was an eye opener for me in that sense it made me think problematizes over my own perceptions and thought “knowledge” about “natural” landscapes and plants. Scientific platitudes are hard to discover and problematize without deeper knowledge about a subject, like the notion of ever changing landscape that Rackman was talking about on the seminar (simplified he argues that landscape change often is dramatic and quick if it appears) – something that is common knowledge and doesn´t need to be proved. I guess scientific platitudes can occur as a problem in interdisciplinary studies and research, but then we also have the question about trust between disciplines a foundation for interdisciplinary research. Thus I guess the authors Rackman is criticizing (e.g. Hughes) is not educated ecologist has he is and it is up to every researcher to check and critical analyze their sources.
Without being an ecologist I agree with Rackman how to treat written (historical) accounts. Can we trust the author of the written account in having knowledge about what he or she is writing about? What was the function and purpose of the account when it was written? Was it e.g. to describe a tree accurately or is the tree merely a fictional setting in another purpose? How have crucial words for my purpose as a researcher changed over time? As the meaning of the word wood that Rachkman him selves’ points out as an example.
Rackmans point of wives is a healthy addition in the debate according to me and it is also why I think this kind of subjects is useful for global environmental history as an interdisciplinary field, in cracking myths to encourage and remind people of the importance on questioning basic notions and “facts” in whatever subject, for not to build parts of the research on factoids. This will make better adjustment suggestions from environmental history research in the present on environmental issues and a serious debate.
It is also good to not romanticize about past, as the thought of ancient Greece as a lush Eden does, which Rackman is discussing. Such romanticizing over a brighter past makes a shadow fall over humans in the past or the present in changing the environment to something worse than before, in cases where is it not the entire trues. A balanced picture with not only blame on humankind as a destroying force is a more encouraging and healing approach for discussion on environmental issues.
This discussion from me is maybe not addressing and answering one of the specific questions we got for the seminar, but I found it more useful for me to problematize on the issue of usefulness and importance or not of Rackmans point for our interdisciplinary field.

Ellen Lindblom