2017: Global Environment is ten years old

Co-editor Gabriella Corona reflects on the journal’s project and its discursive place in a globalised world. Global Environment is co-edited by Gabriella and Mauro Agnoletti. Further information can be found here and the journal can be ordered here

Some of the GE team: Mauro Agnoletti, Sarah Johnson from the White Horse Press, Christof Mauch of the Rachel Carson Center and Gabriella Corona

The twice-yearly journal Global Environment. A Journal of Transdisciplinary History was born ten years ago to act as a link for ongoing research on the environment and world history, with special regard to the modern and contemporary periods. Our principal objective is to understand the processes that have led to the present state of our environment, as well as differences between its state and management today and in past epochs. The journal does not limit itself to promoting historical studies. It also offers space to texts dealing with the current age. Our intent is to stimulate and gather studies and research which, despite diverse approaches and themes, share a conception of the environment as a perspective from which to look at the problems of the world and its history, at economic development, social and productive relations, government, and relations between peoples.

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The Journal is promoted and organised by the Institute of Studies of Mediterranean Societies of the National Research Council in Naples and the Department of Technological, Environmental and Forest Sciences of the University of Florence. One of the two issues per year is realised by Raquel Carson Center, an important and very prestigious partner. The journal has a very distinguished editorial board composed of professors and researchers from all five continents. The journal comprises a monographic part dedicated to an important theme and other sections like ‘Library’, ‘Interview’, ‘Around the world’, ‘Policy’, ‘Round Table’, ‘Dialogues’ or ‘Historiography’ which offer space to develop different thinking about public debates surrounding environmental problems or for cultural and theoretical discussions. Many themes have been addressed in the ten years of the journal’s life. To name but a few: ‘Environment and Memory’, ‘World II and Natural Resources’, ‘Mediterranean and Mediterraneans’, ‘Small Islands and Natural Hazards’, ‘Dust Storms and Globalisation’, ‘The Country and City’, ‘Environmental Issues in the Socialist and Post-Socialist Countries’.

The journal favours the emergence of spatially and culturally diversified points of view. It aims to replace the notion of ‘hierarchy’ with those of ‘relation’ and ‘exchange’ – between continents, states, regions, cities, central zones and peripheral areas – in the construction and destruction (for exchange can also involve damage and degradation) of environments and ecosystems. The global history of the environment cannot limit itself to looking at how the Western model has asserted itself in the countries of the global South; it also needs to study how this model has merged with local experiences. We should narrate not only how the West appropriated natural and human resources, but also the strong resistance and antagonism it met with. Precisely because the globalisation processes that modern imperialism set under way require a perspective transcending the national, and often even the continental scale, global studies cannot neglect to take into account the encounter and the clash between the colonised and the colonisers. In spite of the horror and the violence, this is a common historical experience and should be portrayed as such. It favoured the merging of different worlds, and present reality is the result. To be grounded in an authentic concept of integration, both politics and educational models require a knowledge of local historical experiences and the ways in which they blended with Western culture. This is a knowledge that can only be attained through global communication. We need to transpose to the scientific plane the great merging of cultures that has been going on for a long time now as the result of globalisation in its various forms.

This is why our journal’s aim cannot be merely to analyse the global or transnational aspect of historical processes. We need to take due account of the ‘local’ dimension when analysing environmental historical processes. We need to give voice and space to historical experiences from the most remote regions of the globe, not just to represent the role played by the West in their transformation processes, but looking at them as autonomous and independent entities.

We strive to provide a medium for communication and discussion between scholars from culturally and spatially distant parts of the world, seeking to highlight the relationship between global phenomena and local factors. Case-studies do not merely help us to understand small-scale processes that are not reflected in researches at a global scale; they also allow a better understanding of changes and adaptations at the biological and anthropic level. The regional scale helps us to avoid excessive recourse to generalising interpretive paradigms, which today are influencing not just research, but also the political debate on global change. It also helps us to adapt to local conditions environmental policies that would otherwise be doomed to failure.

GE back content up to 2013 is open access on the journal’s website and via IngentaConnect


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