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Basic and Applied Ecology 15 (2014) 720721

BOOK REVIEW

Rethinking Invasion Ecologies from the Envi- conversations with specialists across the aisle and across the
ronmental Humanities, J. Frawley, I. McCal- university.
A brief sampling of the chapters highlight the range of
man (Eds.). Routledge, New York (2014). 288
subjects being addressed, with authors considering what our
pp., Hardback, Price: $155.00, ISBN: 978-0- understanding of invasive species tells us about resilience,
415-71656-7, Paperback, Price: $50.95, ISBN: biosecurity, human dominion, belongingness, and historical
978-0-415-71657-4 contingency. In Chapter 2, Harriet Ritvo explores the expe-
rience of acclimatization, or the purposeful importation of
This book is the first title of a new series by Routledge foreign plants and animals for adapting to new lands, which
about the Environmental Humanities. The fact that a group found special favor in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century
of environmental humanists chose invasiveness as the first French and British colonies with the unsurprising results
topic of their series is an indication of both the importance that such creatures sometimes escaped their confines to run
of the concept, and a signal that humanists and social sci- rampant across the countryside. Yet chance human decisions
entists are increasingly joining natural scientists in efforts to meant that camels, for instance, would multiply to a million
understand key environmental issues. As one reads through individuals in Australia but would die out in the Ameri-
the five sections and fifteen chapters, one needs to ask: are can Southwest, with the explanation being that camels were
these humanists simply discussing issues that biologists have imported earlier in the former continent, thereby co-adapting
already decided are crucial? And to what degree are the more thoroughly with that environment, then later reaping
humanists offering wholly new environmental insights that greater protection from animal rightists. In other Australian
biologists havent already identified? The clear answers that and New Zealand chapters which is the refreshing and main
emerge are that species invasion is indeed a human, as well focus of this book alien and very invasive prickly pears,
as a biological phenomenon, and that the ways we describe, gene-spliced animals, and cane toads are considered from the
manage, and mitigate the invasives and their effects requires perspective of writers and film-makers to see how the literary
us to investigate changing webs of species relationships, and visually minded transmit messages about this particu-
as well as our own changing biases, assumptions, stories, lar environmental concern. We learn in Morgan Richards
and projected futures with such creatures. These pages also Chapter 10 that Mark Lewis artfully filmed Cane Toads
remind us that Homo sapiens may be the most invasive of (1987) and its 3-D same-titled sequel (2010) have been widely
species, and in any holistic scenario, humanitys own corpo- popular, if not controversial, and have certainly brought the
real selves and activities cannot be excluded from ecological dilemmas of invasion biology to more living rooms than have
theorizing. a collection of high impact factor journals. Such conclusions
By environmental humanities, the contributors see them- remind us that humanists and artists are key allies for sci-
selves as part of a renewed interest in the other half of entists who are searching for better ways to diffuse their
environmental study, whereby historians, ethicists, geogra- results.
phers, political ecologists, philosophers, and literature & film Perhaps most intriguing for ecologists is Lesley Heads
critics consider how, for example, our relationships with Chapter 6 which considers ordinary backyard gardens and
indigenous creatures and indigenous landscapes may alter their keepers as microcosms for our own larger world
our judgments of them, how telling the story or background filling up with novel ecosystems and foreign organisms.
of a particular invading plant or animal can reveal greater This anthropological investigation gauges how gardeners
biological understanding of that creature, or how our very treatment of and attitudes toward weeds may simulate
choice of words to describe these species may be shaping the the challenges facing scientists and managers of invasive
questions that we ask. The humanities Studia humanitatis species: gardeners, after all, apply continual vigilance to
Geisteswissenschaften, as the general project of discovering their plots, make hard choices about favoring or culling
and rediscovering new ways of thinking, provide invasion certain species, balance aesthetic versus pragmatic concerns,
biologists with a fresh way for reflecting on their projects, and then learn to expect the unexpected. As the earth increas-
and this book is to be highly recommended for encouraging ingly takes on the structure of humanitys garden as we

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.baae.2014.09.003
1439-1791/
BOOK REVIEW 721

increasingly see ourselves as inhabiting the Anthropocene is to be praised for showing how invasive species can, in
it can only be wise to ponder how gardeners have learned fact, be hitched to almost everything else in the universe.
(and continue to learn) to live with a nature-out-of-place.
Although some invasion biologists may deem a few authors Marcus Hall
of this volume as straying too far beyond the confines of Zurich, Switzerland
their stated subject, this group of environmental humanists E-mail address: marc.hall@ieu.uzh.ch
Available online 18 October 2014