Book Notice: Inventing Global Ecology by Michael Lewis

Published: Friday 28 February 2003

-- Inventing Global Ecology - Tracking the Biodiversity Ideal in India, 1945-1997 Michael Lewis Orient Longman Private Limited New Delhi Rs 675 369 pages

Inventing Global Ecology is the story of an American academic's experiences in ecological India. The book explores the development of conservation-oriented ecology in India, and the role of us experts, funding and ideas in the process. As the author puts it, the central theme is: "Across India, what does it mean to practise the science of ecology in the latter half of the twentieth century, and how is Indian ecology linked to us scientists and agendas?"

The gamut of Indo- us partnership on biodiversity conservation issues is covered and one whole chapter is devoted to one such partnership -- that between ornithologists Salim Ali and S Dillon Ripley. The author concludes that while the two nations' ecological sciences are intertwined, Indian ecology developed along its own lines fulfilling the goal of Indian players, be they scientists, activists or bureaucrats.

This is the first book of Michael Lewis, an assistant professor of history at Salisbury University, Maryland, usa. His early training as a biologist is evident too in the chapters describing fauna. Lewis' intriguing cocktail of oral history, ethnographic fieldwork and traditional archival research is sure to provide a good read for both the lay reader and the specialist alike.

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