Nature Contained: Environmental Histories of Singapore

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Edited by Timothy P. Barnard

How has Singapore's environment and location in a zone of extraordinary biodiversity influenced the economic, political, social, and intellectual history of the island since the early 19th century? What are the antecedents to Singapore's image of itself as a City in a Garden? Grounding the story of Singapore within an understanding of its environment opens the way to an account of the past that is more than a story of trade, immigration, and nation-building.

Each of the chapters in this volume focusing on topics ranging from tigers and plantations to trade in exotic animals and the greening of the city, and written by botanists, historians, anthropologists, and naturalists examines how humans have interacted with and understood the natural environment on a small island in Southeast Asia over the past 200 years, and conversely how this environment has influenced humans.

Between the chapters are travelers' accounts and primary documents that provide eyewitness descriptions of the events examined in the text. In this regard, Nature Contained: Environmental Histories of Singapore provides new insights into the Singaporean past, and reflects much of the diversity, and dynamism, of environmental history globally.

"This is so much more than a book on the environment. It is a social history, rich in the stories of ordinary people, some of whom made extraordinary contributions to their societies."
Michael D. Barr, Flinders University

"...an important and compelling story that has to be told."
Christina Skott, University of Cambridge

“This is an extraordinarily absorbing book...what Barnard’s edited volume does is provide a fascinating introduction to what were important environmental moments and events not only in the history of Singapore, but also to its influence on the environmental history of other parts of Southeast Asia”
Victor King

Timothy P. Barnard is associate professor in the Department of History at the National University of Singapore. He is the editor of Contesting Malayness: Malay Identity Across Boundaries, also published by NUS Press.


Publication Year: 2014
340 pages, 229mm x 153mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-790-7, Paperback

NUS Press