Rethinking the British Empire through eco-cultural networks

Materialist-cultural environmental history, Relational connections and agency

James Beattie*, Edward Melillo, Emily O’Gorman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


In this short discussion, we use examples from the British Empire to introduce the concept of eco-cultural networks as a lens for examining interconnected, wide-ranging social and environmental processes. We present three conceptual advances that this framework offers to environmental historians: 1) a rethinking of the divisions between cultural and material approaches to environmental history; 2) an emphasis on relational connections in the making of networks; and, 3) a renewed focus on questions of agency. Each of these developments opens up new questions within environmental history and promotes engagement with work outside the field, especially with the ecological sciences and the environmental humanities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-575
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironment and History
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


  • Agency
  • Cultural and material environmental history
  • Eco-cultural
  • Ecology
  • Environment and theory
  • Environmental historiography
  • Environmental humanities
  • Networks
  • Transnational history
  • World environmental history
  • empire

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