Inventing Global Ecology
Tracking the Biodiversity Ideal in India, 1947–1997

By Michael L. Lewis

“It is people such as Lewis, and the debate that books like this can initiate, that have the potential to make a real difference to difficult and chronic global problems....this book is user-friendly for lay-readers, thanks in no small measure to the author’s superb story-telling ability.”


“Michael Lewis’s book addresses an important area of interest in Indian ecology—how institutions and personalities—both domestic and international—have shaped the conservation ethic in India from Independence to the current era of U.S.-dominated wildlife ecology.”

Landscape Ecology

“This extremely well-written book is engaging, creatively researched, and a welcome contribution to the twentieth-century history of both Indian wildlife conservation and the rise of biodiversity conservation ideas globally.”

American Historical Review

Blue jeans, MTV, Coca-Cola, and… ecology? We don't often think of conservation sciences as a U.S. export, but in the second half of the twentieth century an astounding array of scientists and ideas flowed out from the United States into the world, preaching the gospel of conservation-oriented ecology.

Inventing Global Ecology grapples with how we should understand the development of global ecology in the twentieth century—a science that is held responsible for, literally, saving the world. Is the spread of ecology throughout the globe a subtle form of cultural imperialism, as some claim? Or is it a manifestation of an increasingly globalized world, where ideas, people, and things move about with greater freedom than ever before?

Using India as the case study, Professor Michael Lewis considers the development of conservation policies and conservation sciences since the end of World War II and the role of United States scientists, ideas, and institutions in this process. Was India subject to a subtle form of Americanization, or did Indian ecologists develop their own agenda, their own science, and their own way of understanding (and saving) the natural world? Does nationality even matter when doing ecology?

This readable narrative will carry you through the first fifty years of independent India, from the meadows of the Himalayan Mountains to the rainforests of southern India, from Gandhi and Nehru to Project Tiger. Of equal interest to the general reader, to scientists, and to scholars of history and globalization, Inventing Global Ecology combines ethnographic fieldwork and oral history conducted in India and the United States, as well as traditional archival research.

An assistant professor of history at Salisbury University, Salisbury, Maryland, Michael Lewis trained first as a biologist and later in American studies. Inventing Global Ecology comes out of research conducted in India.

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In Series

Series in Ecology and History

Related Subjects

Environmental Policy · International History · Asian History · Asian Studies · Global Issues · Environmental History



Retail price: $32.95, S.
Release date: Apr. 2004
352 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights:North America


Retail price: $55.00, S.
Release date: Apr. 2004
352 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights:North America


Release date: Apr. 2004
≅ 352 pages
Rights:North America