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The Steppe as Fertile Ground for Innovation in Conceptualizing Human-Nature Relationships

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JournalSlavonic and east european review
DatePublished - Jan 2015
Issue number1
Volume93
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)16-38
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article considers the importance of borderland regions with environments that differ from the central regions of states in the development of innovations in conceptualizing the relationship between human societies and the ‘natural’ world. The Steppe in the south of the Russian Empire is taken as an example. It is argued that there were three phases to the development of new understandings of the Steppe environment: encounter and recognition of difference; exploration and scientific research; and innovation. The principal innovation considered is genetic soil science, devised by Vasilii Dokuchaev in the 1870s-80s. The article also considers the transformation of the Steppe environment. The significance of the Steppe borderland is analyzed in comparison with the American Great Plains and European colonialism around the globe.

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  • Steppe, Environment, Sustainability

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