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Books From the Library Shelves



This issue lists select books in IFNCA Library on the subjects Environment and Ecology.  Environment has been part of the lifestyle of all the ancient civilizations.  The subjects are intricately related to 'the Arts.'  IGNCA library has a rich collection of 39 books on Environment and 14 books on Ecology.  Following is a glimpse of some of the books:

Environment and Ethnicity in India 1200 - 1991 by Sumit Guha: The book draws on a wide range of sources to reconstruct the history of forest communities in India and to explore questions of identity and environment in an ancient agrarian civilization.  The author discusses in the book how pristine ethnicities have changed and evolved through civilizations.  In the process, he also shows how the environment was continually modified by human action from early historic times to the present.  It is an important contribution to our understanding of society, politics and the environment in bothy the medieval and the contemporary world.  This book is part of the series published by Cambridge Studies in Indian History and Society.

Green History: A Reading in Environmental Literature, Philosophy and Politics by Derek Wall:  This is an interesting book that traces the environment movement through the centuries.  The book gives the perspective that movement for Nature conservation is not a modern concept.  It gives a list of Green movements in the past through various writings.  The introduction suggests that hazardous pollution, irrational deforestation, land degradation and chemical and food adulteration  might have been the causes of the end of several civilizations.  It has 19 sections with essays, some dating as far back as 1163 A.D.  The book is not only a reference source for the past green movements but gives interesting anecdotes from the past, like linking the excesses of Nero and Caligula to the presence of lead in their blood that came from the metal vessels which were made of lead and its alloy.  These two Romans were highly fond of acidic fish sauces that washed the lead from the vessels into their blood and brain.

Nature Culture Imperialism: Essays on Environmental History of South Asia: Edited by David Arnold and Ramachandra Guha: In both ecological and cultural terms, South Asia is characterized by an unparalleled diversity.  It thus offers unique possibilities for the environmental historian.  Ecological degradation, and the social conflicts that have come in its wake, have further underlined the need for historical research in this field.  This volume brings together a set of pioneering essays in the environmental history of South Asia.  The contributors come from Australia, Britain, France, India and the United States: they include some of the best-known historians of the subcontinent.  Some contributions deal with pastroalists and fisherfolk, two important social groups neglected by historians; and with urban pollution, an environmental problem of enormous magnitude that has rather longer roots than is sometimes imagined.  The authoritative and original essays presented here will help firmly establish environmental history as one of the most exciting fields in South Asian history.

Women and the Environment: Prepared by Annabel Rodda: This book focuses on the importance of women in relation to environment and development.  In the developing countries, women's relationship with the environment is vital to their daily lives, for example, in the provision of water, fuel, food and other basic needs.  These women not only bear the brunt of environmental degradation, but also play a crucial part in environmental management.  Their importance as key agents in achieving sustainable development cannot be overstated.  In addition, women everywhere are influencing the environmental debate in many ways-as consumers, as campaigners and as educators and communicators.  This book brings together material form a wide range of sources; it provides numerous examples and includes original contributions from experts.  The book also provides a list of organizations working in the related field.  The book is part of Women and World Development series.

Sediments of Time: Environment and Society in Chinese History: Edited by Mark Elvin and Liu Ts'ui-jung: This is a collection of Papers presented at a Conference on the History of Environment in China in December 1993, China's environmental problems long predate the modern era.  Official policies, sometimes local, sometimes on a massive scale, have often caused as many difficulties as they have solved.  Yet the Chinese have always bheen aware of their environment.  The Chinese written record on environmental matters is probably unique in its continuity and depth in time.  This collection of essays is the first relatively comprehensive survey of the environmental history of China.  Written by some of the world's leading Western and Chinese experts, this book crystallizes a new and distinct field of scholarship that studies what happens when human social systems interact with the rest of the natural world.  This book shows how deforestation, land reclamation, settlement, and water control, when combined with an ever-changing climate, shaped a distinctive and often precarious environment.  This book helps to understand the foundation of modern China and the deeper origins of many of China's most daunting contemporary challenges.

Environmental Sociology: A Social Constructionist Perspective by John A Hannigam: This book deals with sociological issues in the canvas of environmental studies.  Thus there are chapters on News Media and Environmental communication, Biodiversities loss, Biotechnology as an Environment problem etc.

Ecology Environment and Man by Rajan Gour: The book centres round the environmental and ecological situations of North-West South-West of Chandigarh with a view of exploring the hominoid evolution in the area in order to document the cultural evidences of early man.  In this major four chaper book, the first chapter provides an introduction to the hominoid and primate evolution and environment, besides giving a historical perspective of the palaeo primatological studies in Indian Siwaliks from where most of the fossil remains of early man's selectives have been found.

The second chapter gives an idea of the geological setting pertinent to the reconstruction of the  palaeo environment.  The third chapter describes the fossil fauna on which the palaeo ecological enfierceness is based.  The fourth chapter reconstructs in detail palaeoeco system and palaeo communities, of which the monkeys, apes, and possibly early man formed an integral part, of the Siwaliks spanning from 5 million years to 1 million years.  The ecological and environmental picture is synthesized in the end.

Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Environment: Edited by G.R. Chatwal, D.K. Pandey and K.K. Nanda: The encycolpaedic Dictionary of Environment is an effort to keep pace with continuing rapid developments and expanding vocabularies in all areas of environment.  This four-volume set and covers terms which have been carefully selected from the various aspects of environment such as air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, environment management, ecology, wastes, forestry and environment, plants and pollution, energy, wild life etc. With extensive cross-references, the dictionary will be of value to students of environment and to scientists and engineers working on pollution problems.

IGNCA Publications on the Subject

The Cultural Dimension of Ecology:  It is a collection of 15 articles focusing on the ecological systems in the mountains, forests and islands vis-a-vis the modes of development adopted.  The articles underscore the urgent need to return to a lifestyle that befriends Nature and follows the traditional wisdom.  The book also includes case studies highlighting the aspects of culture that are part of lives even today.  The book is a useful guide to environmentalists, social activists, economic planners, policy markers and cultural scholars working to revive traditional wisdom.

Lifestyle and Ecology: This book is a sequel to the previous one.  This is also a collection of essays by ecologists, anthropologists and folklorists.  The studies in the book meticulously analyze the lifestyles of the Himalayan pastoral nomads, the Lakshadweepa islanders, the Mukkuvars (fisher folk) of kanyakumari among others to show how these communities follow the Natural world.  Using variegated cultural paradigms with details like their belief system, myths, rituals, folklore, songs and their knowledge of cosmology etc. the authors underscore the inseparability of Nature and culture in the traditional societies world over.  The book also carries an overview of ecology vis-a-vis traditional resource management systems.

Religion and the Environmental Crisis: This lecture by Seyyed Hossein Nasr takes us through the different approaches of manking towards Nature and the manner in which science and technology has been used to satisfy the greed and not the need.  The lecture has been published by IGNCA as a monograph.  Besides these, IGNCA subscribes to three Environment-related Journals.  They are: Environment Health Perspective Journal of Institute of Environment Health Sciences (Monthly), Grassroot Geographical Monthly and Humanscape, (Monthly). 

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