Small Gods and Other Singapores

“If you don’t have humans, you can’t have gods” When I can, I like talking to my grandma about the gods, deities and spirits of her Chinese cosmos. When she speaks, worlds blur. The rational//supernatural divide that has been soldered so deeply into me loosens, unwinds. Gods will bicker if you place too many of […]

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Suara Hutan I: “Mary”

“In many ways the great apes are very like us, yet we simultaneously hold the conviction that they are not like us..It may be true that they do not speak in the sense in which humans understand language, but they communicate, listen, and comprehend, and they teach…” – Robert J. Cribb, Wild Man from Borneo […]

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Uses of Environmental History: Sandra Swart

This is the final post in the uses of environmental history series. The series has been adapted from contributions to a roundtable forum published in the first issue of the new Journal for Ecological History, edited by Renmin University’s Center for Ecological History.

“Feral Historians?”

By Sandra Swart

The greatest strength we have as historians—our secret superpower—is the ability to take an apparently immutable existing status quo and show that “it was not always so.” We can look at the present and expose the seemingly “natural order” for just how “unnatural” (how anthropogenically constructed) it really is. For example, gender historians have exploded the static, apparently unchanging, and ostensibly biological dualism between men and women—thereby opening up new ways of understanding the social order. After all, a key value of learning about the past is to defamiliarize the present. To simply know that “it was not always so” is amazingly potent. It…

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