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Aleksanteri Papers 4:2005

Aleksanteri Papers

Arja Rosenholm and Sari Autio-Sarasmo (eds.)

Understanding Russian Nature: Representations, Values and Concepts

ISBN 952-10-2598-0
ISSN 1457-9251
10 EUR + VAT 10 %

"One of the most pressing contemporary crises in Eurasia is the Soviet Union's legacy of environmental degradiation. Yet, scholarly examinations of how Russians viewed, utilized, or interacted with the "natural" world historically and culturally remain relatively few. This lacuna is in many ways surprising given the emphasis that nineteenth-century Russian historians, philosophers, scientists, and writers placed on environmental issues in their work - and given the rapid rise of environmental history and ecocritical literary studies in the United States and Europe. It is all the more surprising given the extent of environmental trauma unleashed in Russia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. If there is to be any hope today of mitigating these ecological inheritances, then deep study of the environmental question in the Eurasian context is essential.

[...] Emerging from these engaging essays is a complex and nuanced picture of the culture and practices of the human-nature interaction in Russia. It can only be hoped that this excellent book will serve as a catalyst for an ever-widening examination of Eurasian environmental issues."
   - Nicholas B. Breyfogle, Ohio State University, /Slavic Review /(Summer 2007)

Conceptions of nature are part of Russian cultural self-understanding and national identity, and they also have ramifications for environmental polities and protection. In order to understand such cultural undercurrents it is necessary to probe the historical and cultural meanings and values given to nature. In this volume different concepts of and approaches to "nature" are characterized within national cultural systems of belief and knowledge. This culturally and historically oriented, multi- and interdisciplinary volume points out that there is no singular nature as such but natures culturally constructed and sustained. Focusing on nature as a space transmitting national myths and political symbols, the articles emphasize how important it is to understand these national markers of Russian identity. This book is based on papers given at the Third Aleksanteri conference in November 2003.

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