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This early work by Alfred Russel Wallace was originally published in 1895 and we are now republishing it with a brand new introductory biography. 'Natural Selection and Tropical Nature Essays on Descriptive and Theoretical Biology' is a collection of essays that detail Wallace's observations of various bird species and outlines some of his ideas relating to evolutionary theory. Alfred Russel Wallace was born on 8th January 1823 in the village of Llanbadoc, in Monmouthshire, Wales. Wallace was inspired by the travelling naturalists of the day and decided to begin his exploration career collecting specimens in the Amazon rainforest. He explored the Rio Negra for four years, making notes on the peoples and languages he encountered as well as the geography, flora, and fauna. While travelling, Wallace refined his thoughts about evolution and in 1858 he outlined his theory of natural selection in an article he sent to Charles Darwin. Wallace made a huge contribution to the natural sciences and he will continue to be remembered as one of the key figures in the development of evolutionary theory.
Whether considered a sublime landscape, malignant wilderness, or the endangered site of environmental conflicts, the tropics are, Picturing Tropical Nature argues, largely a construct of American and European imaginations. Nancy Leys Stephan asserts that images of the tropics conveyed through drawings, paintings, photographs, literature, and travel writings are central to what Stepan calls the “tropicalization of nature,” or the often harmful misrepresentation of the tropics and its peoples. She here examines several aspects of such tropicalization as they emerge through the work of nineteenth- and twentieth-century scientists and artists, including Alexander von Humboldt, Alfred Russel Wallace, Louis Agassiz, Sir Patrick Manson, and Margaret Mee. From the earliest photographic attempts to represent tropical hybrid races to depictions of disease in new tropical medicines, Picturing Tropical Nature offers new insight into the convergence of the tropics with European and American science and art. “A brilliant and provocative book . . . the kind of book that carries forward a field in a single stride . . . undoubtedly the finest account of ‘tropicality’ we have.”—Social History of Medicine
The study of environmental history is no more only of forests, rivers, but also of agriculture, climate, economic practices and human culture. In recent times environmental studies as a discipline has come to the forefront with growing concerns over the ozone layer depletion but has led to investigation of the historical factors and processes of man and environment relationship and its impact. Very little was earlier known about the devastative impact on the environment of imperialism, state capitalism of post-colonial nations and the liberalization and globalization of these economies. There is no aspect of the environment which has not felt the impact of such developmental human process. Rivers have thus either dried up or are polluted with highly toxic materials, seas and oceans have become the dumping ground of nuclear and other wastes, streams are blocked, rains reduced, forest covers depleted, wildlife has dwindled, concrete jungles have replaced green fields and natural water-bodies, desertification of landscapes has happened. It has had its own impact on human life as well. Droughts, floods, dust storms, landslides, water shortage, agricultural decline and food crisis, starvation and epidemics followed. The planet earth and its inhabitants are currently in the throes of the most devastating man-made crisis for survival. In an attempt to enhance our understanding of the environmental crisis, the present collection has essays investigating wide ranging events ranging from understanding climate from logbook of East India Company to the construction of Himalayan tropics; environmental cost of damming the Damodar River to water politics of south India; impact of Tsunami of the years 1737 as well as of 2004-5; politics over earthquake rehabilitation to the Sarna movements of eastern Indian tribals.

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