Empire of Extinction

Empire of Extinction

Russians and the North Pacific's Strange Beasts of the Sea, 1741-1867

Book - 2014
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"Empire of Extinction examines the causes and consequences of environmental catastrophe resulting from Russia's imperial expansion into the North Pacific. Gathering a host of Siberian and Alaskan native peoples, from the early 1700s until 1867, the Russian empire organized a rapacious hunt for fur seals, sea otters, and other fur-bearing animals. The animals declined precipitously and Steller's sea cow went entirely extinct. This destruction, which took place in one of the most hotly-contested imperial arenas of the time, also drew the attention of natural historians, who played an important role in imperial expansion. Their observations of environmental change in the North Pacific caused Russians and other Europeans to recognize the threat of species extinction for the first time. Russians reacted by instituting some of the colonial world's most progressive conservationist policies. Empire of Extinction points to the importance of the North Pacific both for the Russian empire and for global environmental history"-- Provided by publisher.
"In the second half of the eighteenth century, the Russian Empire-already the largest on earth-expanded its dominion onto the ocean. Through a series of government-sponsored voyages of discovery and the establishment of a private fur trade, Russians crossed and re-crossed the Bering Strait and the North Pacific Ocean, establishing colonies in Kamchatka and Alaska and exporting marine mammal furs to Europe and China. In the process they radically transformed the North Pacific, causing environmental catastrophe. In one of the most hotly-contested imperial arenas of the day, the Russian empire organized a host of Siberian and Alaskan native peoples to rapaciously hunt for fur seals, sea otters, and other fur-bearing animals. The animals declined precipitously, and Steller's sea cow went extinct. This destruction captured the attention of natural historians who for the first time began to recognize the threat of species extinction. These experts drew upon Enlightenment and Romantic-era ideas about nature and imperialism but their ideas were refracted through Russian scientific culture and influenced by the region's unique ecology. Cosmopolitan scientific networks ensured the spread of their ideas throughout Europe. Heeding the advice of these scientific experts, Russian colonial governors began long-term management of marine mammal stocks and instituted some of the colonial world's most forward-thinking conservationist policies. Highlighting the importance of the North Pacific in Russian imperial and global environmental history, Empire of Extinction focuses on the development of ideas about the natural world in a crucial location far from what has been considered the center of progressive environmental attitudes"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, [2014]
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9780199343416
0199343411
Characteristics: xi, 296 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm

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