Historical geography and environmental history: an Australian interface

J. M. Powell

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Australian historical geography developed pari passu with the late emergence of Australian history, and recent responses of both fields to the expansion of environmental history are renegotiating valued reciprocities. Thus far, each group appears to accept the primacy of nature's independent dynamic. Deeply rooted in the uniqueness of the Australian experience, this conviction is balanced by a similarly shared recognition of competing claims grounded in aesthetic, scientific and vernacular conceptualizations. Each group grapples with the tension between the academic calling and the requirements of global and national citizenship, and variously tolerates and promotes "accessible" interpretations of the antecedents of current environmental issues. Environmental history's bulging Australian prospectus puts a high premium on the historical geographers' "core" interests in resource appraisal and environmental management, and while the geographers are much better prepared for critical interdisciplinary analyses of environmental change and hold fast to a sense of collegiality which is ineluctably international, the specificities of circumstance continue to seek out and reward Australia's historians. Closer collaboration seems likely and, providing the narcissism of convoluted private discourse is repudiated, the process should nurture an authentic and durable blend of "applied" scholarship which will build bridges to the wider community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-273
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Historical Geography
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1996

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