A Review of National Park Science: Jane Carruthers’ Magnum Opus
* Part 1 features Jane Carruthers’ introduction to her book and a comment by Libby Robin. A full review of National Park Science by Bernhard Gißibl will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Environment and History.
Jane Carruthers’ National Park Science is the first comprehensive and authoritative study of the rise of the conservation sciences in South Africa. The book charts the various disciplines that have contributed to the field and situates their development in the national and international processes and constellations that shaped the professionalization and institutionalization of sciences as varied as zoology, botany, animal ecology, invasion biology, and many other, ever more specialized subdisciplines. It is a story of science made in Africa, and is awe inspiring in its interdisciplinarity.
Digesting an impressive number of sources from an array of disciplines and archives, Carruthers traces how the raw material of South Africa’s flora and fauna was nurtured in various protected areas, not just national parks. The study shows how protected nature was subjected to thorough analysis by amateurs, hunters, collectors, and, increasingly, university-trained scientists. Hailing from South Africa herself, Carruthers analyzes how the various sciences contributed to the management of these territories, how the management objectives of protected areas shaped the kind of science that could be conducted, and how governmental interests were served by both the protected areas and the sciences they enabled. Continue reading