By Peter Coates
Occasionally accidentally and infrequently on objective, people have transported crops and animals to new habitats around the globe. Arriving in ever-increasing numbers to American soil, fresh invaders have competed with, preyed on, hybridized with, and carried illnesses to local species, reworking our ecosystems and developing anxiousness between environmentalists and most of the people. yet is American nervousness over this concern of ecological identification a contemporary phenomenon? Charting moving attitudes to alien species because the 1850s, Peter Coates brings to gentle the wealthy cultural and ancient elements of this tale by way of situating the historical past of immigrant natural world in the wider context of human immigration. via an illuminating sequence of specific invasions, together with the English sparrow and the eucalyptus tree, what he unearths is that we have got continually perceived vegetation and animals on the subject of ourselves and the polities to which we belong. atmosphere the saga of human family members with the surroundings within the extensive context of medical, social, and cultural heritage, this thought-provoking e-book demonstrates how profoundly notions of nationality and debates over race and immigration have formed American understandings of the wildlife.
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Extra info for American Perceptions of Immigrant and Invasive Species: Strangers on the Land
91 My explorations of the humanization and nationalization of nature through the construction of biological belonging and non-belonging begin with one of these two birds. The English sparrow is so small, unremarkable, and ubiquitous that few Americans—with the exception of those belonging to Brown’s three categories—would give it a second glance or thought. qxd 9/25/2006 2:57 PM Page 27 Strangers and Natives 27 and unprepossessing appearance are belied by the remarkable insight the bird provides into enthusiasm for exotics and its eventual replacement by nostalgia for natives.
14 The sparrow’s defenders counterattacked in identical fashion, accusing the bird’s opponents of bias unrelated to any clear and present danger to wheat, blossoms, early lettuce, genteel ears, park benches, or useful native birds. In another important respect, though, the two warring parties shared the same outlook. In common with most late nineteenth-century Americans (and Britons), they Wrmly believed that birds were part of the “book of nature” that demonstrated qualities of “good” and “bad” comprehensible in human terms.
4 An avian Daniel Boone was taken west of the Alleghenies in 1916. 5 A century and a half ago, there were no English sparrows or starlings in the United States. Today, about a hundred and Wfty million English sparrows and a further two hundred million starlings span the nation from Alaska to Florida. Though these numbers pale beside the size of the passenger pigeon’s former population (billions in its heyday), their current ascendancy evokes the once unrivaled hegemony of a now extinct native. And the potential for fruitful comparison goes further.
American Perceptions of Immigrant and Invasive Species: Strangers on the Land by Peter Coates