Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Suggested Readings on Oil and Immigration

The following is a brief reply about some recent traffic about Civilitas and politics etc.

On the oil & general environmental issues:

I urge those interested in those topics to consult the following works:
Chew, Sing C. 2001. World Ecological Degradation: Accumulation, Urbanization, and Deforestation 3000 B.C. - A. D. 2000. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.
Chew, Sing C. 2007. The Recurring Dark Ages: Ecological Stress, Climate Changes, and System Transformation. Lanham, MD: Altamira Press.

Chew, Sing. C. 2008. Ecological Futures: What History Can Teach Us. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.

The trio of books is quite informative. The first reviews a great deal of history and shows, in my summary, that virtually all states/empires/civilizations have degraded their environments. And that quite often thinkers warned rulers of the impending danger. Typically thinkers were ignored, or heeded, too little too late. The second book makes his argument about dark ages – 600 year cycles – that while hard on states/empires/civilizations, especially elites, they do allow the environment to recover.

The third book tries to tie this all together for lessons for current times. While I am sure many will demur on some of his claims, the work is very germane to ISCSC issues.

Sing Chew also co-edits a journal Nature + Culture, which has some relevant articles, though most issues of the journal focus on more contemporary topics. [Disclaimer, I am on the editorial board of that journal].

The following two volumes are follow-on collections of a conference held in Lund, Sweden in 2003, with significantly revised papers. There are many articles germane to ISCSC issues, and as the titles suggest have much to say about environmental issues, broadly conceived.

Hornborg, Alf and Carole E. Crumley. 2007. The World System and the Earth System: Global Socioenvironmental Change and Sustainability Since the Neolithic. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Books.

Hornborg, Alf J. R. McNeill and Joan Martinez-Alier, eds. 2007. Rethinking Environmental History: World-System History and Global Environmental Change. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

On immigration issues:
McNeill, William H. 1986. Polyethnicity and National Unity in World History. Toronto: U. Toronto Press.

Is very useful as deep background. Key points: all states since Ur have been multi-ethnic, or in McNeill’s terms polyethnic. Most immigration has been by conquest, that is involuntary. The modern [last few centuries] concept of one nation [i.e., identity] should be one state and the reverse arose out of complex historical processes. That is the concept, ideal, and practice of the nation-state is new, NOT ancient. As always, McNeill is interesting reading. And as usual, McNeill’s argument is more nuanced and detailed that this simple summary.

I’ve thrown my own two cents in on this issue in two recent publications, one of which is available on line:
Kardulias, P. Nick and Thomas D. Hall. 2007. “A World-Systems View of Human Migration Past and Present: Providing a General Model for Understanding the Movement of People.” (Forum on Public Policy, on-line).

Hall, Thomas D. and P. Nick Kardulias. 2010. “Migration and Globalization: Long-term Processes in World-Systems.” Pp. 22-37 in Mass Migration in the World System: Past, Present and Future, Political Economy of the World-System Vol XXXII, edited by Eric Mielants and Terry-Ann Jones. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Press.

Both of these try to put migration issues in a long-term perspective, and note that what is referred to as “migration” is really many different things, often specific to specific ages and conditions, and that modern concerns are, in fact, really quite new. [modern meaning last few centuries].

Finally the comments by Maria Cantwell I alluded to can be found here.

By Tom Hall

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