Naturalizing historicizing, historicizing nature: The times of environmental history
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Climate change is not one story. It is both too fast and too slow, it is everywhere and nowhere at once. So, to make historical sense of environmental change’s origins and effects requires not a single history, but diverse narratives and temporalities. Recent scholarship in the environmental humanities has claimed that most historical narratives remain too anthropocentric and teleological to properly capture environmental change’s histories in print. Until now, that is, as scholars argue that a rapidly growing awareness of global climate change signifies an epistemic break towards multitemporal “Anthropocene histories”. This thesis instead identifies stronger historical roots and diverse social and scientific entanglements of historians’ temporalities through case studies of U.S. environmental histories. Through an analysis, inspired by recent theoretical history, of these works’ temporalities, this thesis reveals heterogenous origins of innovative temporal elements, with changes of abstract environmental awareness just one of many driving factors. In particular, this thesis argues that composing temporally diverse histories, which are representative of both human and non-human pasts, necessarily requires an interdisciplinary methodology and socio-cultural engagement. Such diverse methodology can include an acute awareness of ecological history, implementation of (already exiting) less-linear narrative frameworks and interviewing.