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Trees Crossing Borders - Towards a Transnational History of Forestry

Thu, March 31, 3:00 to 4:30pm, Westin Seattle Hotel, Olympic

Session Submission Type: Panel

Abstract

Despite their literal rootedness, trees have a long history of crossing borders – be they the customs borders regulating wood imports, the political borders separating national forestry institutes, or the imaginary borders between old and unexplored, possibly colonizable, worlds. In this panel, we will look at the transnational dimension of the history of forestry and the history of trees, striving to trace both the links that connected different forests and the ways in which particular forests and forest knowledge connected different parts of the world from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. Through our case studies – which address changing perceptions of the scientific and commercial value of North American forests, the impact of French forestry on Mediterranean environments and societies, debates over the climatic effect of trees in Europe and colonial Africa, and the commodification and globalization of the Southeast Asian hardwood forests – we endeavor to start a conversation about the role of forests and their inhabitants, users, interpreters, and administrators in connecting global environmental histories with histories of science and technology. In view of the central ecological, economic, and symbolic function of trees and forests, the four papers and the conversation will also address how forestry history can speak to diverse audiences and connect environmental history to the every-day experiences of people around the globe.

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