African Environmental History: East African Progress, 1970s to the Present

Maxmillian J. Chuhila


This paper provides a historiographical review of the development of African environmental history in the past five decades. It reviews major developments in the field by examining the themes covered, the methodology used and how the discipline can be expanded. While it focuses on Tanzania mostly, it starts with a general overview of African and East African experiences before narrowing down to Tanzania. It tries to fit the general developments into the East African context by using Tanzania. It suggests that environmental historians of Africa should consider the study of urban environments that by far have been left to human geographers and anthropologists especially after the debatable ‘end of nature’ movement. The urban environments, infrastructure, rapid demographic change in African unplanned cities and towns for instance, present challenges that are negotiated by urban dwellers and that are central in environmental history. Our focus has always been studying rural communities while ignoring the urban spaces that also have unique challenges and its people have developed strategies to deal with them in the context of changing access to urban opportunities on urban resources.


Historical Ecology, Urban Space, Ecological Consciousness, Landscape History, Environmental History.

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