Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, promotes the idea that nature—trees in particular—serve a vital role in human health and social well-being. The practice promises, and science increasingly affirms, that the act of walking among our leafy cohabitants inspires tranquility and benefits us physically and psychologically.1 Although the term has its origins in the late twentieth century (Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, and Fisheries coined it in 1982), the practice of shinrin-yoku is much older, as is our appreciation of all that trees, collectively and individually, contribute to our lives. This issue invites you to engage in a scholarly shinrin-yoku exercise, one that traverses the cork forests of Algeria, the palmeries of Ghana, and the poplar groves of Spain. Our first article, “Civilizing through Cork” by Andrea Duffy, explores la mission civilisatrice, or the civilizing mission, in colonial French Algeria. There, Duffy argues, cork production became a central tenet of imperial policy that aimed at redeeming Algeria’s environment and its peoples through increased exploitation of the region’s forests and changes in its land use practices. The cork industry, Duffy suggests, “promised to uplift indigenous inhabitants by engaging them in sustainable, scientific, ‘civilized’ uses of land.” The mission civilisatrice had mixed results: although the resulting boom in cork production “served to marginalize indigenous pastoralists while sapping the colony’s environmental resources,” Duffy concludes, “it ultimately failed to destroy either.” Algeria remains a significant source of cork today, a legacy of nineteenth-century social, political, and environmental ideas and policies. The oil palms of colonial Ghana (then known as the Gold Coast) are the subject of our next article, “Imbibing the Lessons of Defiance,” by Jonathan Robins. Oil palms produced one of the most significant commodities in colonial Ghana’s export economy: edible oil harvested from their fruits. But they also provided an important resource for local markets: alcohol distilled from its sap. These competing uses reflected a larger sociopolitical battle that in turn created a conservation crisis, whose effects can still be seen on Ghana’s landscape today. As Robins argues, “Natural and human factors intersecting at local, imperial, and global scales shaped the ways in which Ghanaians used oil palms, and in doing so, reshaped their environment.” Felix Labrador Arroyo and Koldo Trápaga Monchet also examine the role of trees in an imperial context in their article, “Forestry, Territorial Organization, and Military Struggle in the Early Modern Spanish Monarchy.” Their focus is on one small forest in Grenada, the Soto de Roma, that provided critical raw materials for the Spanish navy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Beyond its contributions to imperial endeavors, however, the Soto de Roma also became a site where the Spanish monarchy consolidated its power locally and where it initiated a new framework for forest conservation. Incorporating legal, social, political, and economic evidence, the article demonstrates that even small forests can make major contributions to the “consolidation of power at local, regional, and even global levels.” We conclude our virtual shinrin-yoku as many actual forest bathing excursions do: in the city—in this case, Tokyo, where we leave the trees to the forests and find ourselves mired in muck. In “Attacked by Excrement,” Paul Kreitman explores the city’s night soil industry in the years surrounding World War II as it moved from serving as an integral part of Tokyo’s political ecology, to a scarce commodity, and finally into a waste hidden by modern infrastructure. “Attention to the wartime political ecology of excrement,” Kreitman argues, “illuminates how home front societies have responded to the unforeseen pressures of total war, and reveals the fundamentally contingent nature of embedded enviro-technical networks.” This issue also includes our second annual Film Forum, which can be found after Matthew Klingle’s Gallery, “The Multiple Lives of Marjorie: The Dogs of Toronto and the Co-Discovery of Insulin.” Note 1 Bum Jin Park et al., “The Physiological Effects of Shinrin-yoku (Taking in the Forest Atmosphere or Forest Bathing): Evidence from Field Experiments in 24 Forests Across Japan,” Experimental Health and Preventive Medicine 15, no. 1 (January 2010): 18–26; Liisa Tyrväinen et al., “The Influence of Urban Green Environments on Stress Relief Measures: A Field Experiment,” Journal of Environmental Psychology 138 (June 2014): 1–9; and Gregory Bratman et al., “The Benefits of Nature Experience: Improved Affect and Cognition,” Landscape and Urban Planning 138 (June 2015): 41–50. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society for Environmental History and the Forest History Society. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Environmental History – Oxford University Press
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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