Enlightenment’s Frontier: The Scottish Highlands and the Origins of Environmentalism. By Fredrik Albritton Jonsson. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2013. Pp. xii+344. $50.00
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It would be difficult to find a map that places the Scottish Highlands at the center of the world. And over the past few centuries their core demographic experience has tended to be centrifugal rather than centripetal, as erstwhile Highlanders swelled the populations of far-flung outposts of empire (or former empire). But their landscape and their legends have disproportionately attracted diverse and numerous imaginations; as Hugh Trevor Roper concluded in “The Invention of Tradition: The Highland Tradition of Scotland,” tartans are now purchased and “worn, with tribal enthusiasm, by Scots and supposed Scots from Texas to Tokyo” (in The Invention of Tradition, ed. Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger [Cambridge, 1983], 41). In Fredrik Albritton Jonsson’s deeply researched study, however, the author argues that the impact of the Highlands was not confined to the romantic realms conjured by Ossian and Walter Scott. From the geographical periphery he moves the Highlands to the theoretical heart as both the inspiration and the laboratory for Enlightenment efforts to understand and exploit the natural world and (especially) its resources.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Humanities. History Section
The Journal of Modern History
University of Chicago Press
Ritvo, Harriet. “Enlightenment’s Frontier: The Scottish Highlands and the Origins of Environmentalism . By Fredrik Albritton Jonsson.New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2013. Pp. Xii+344. $50.00.” The Journal of Modern History, vol. 87, no. 1, Mar. 2015, pp. 175–77.
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