Environmental Change in the Early Caribbean
This chapter examines ‘precocious modernity’ in the early Caribbean and argues that the region was a crucible of environmental change during the period. It explains how the vulnerability of island environments promoted concepts of rarity and heightened concerns about conservation, and how living in a multinational world in close proximity to one another facilitated cooperation and conflict, emulation and rivalry, borrowings and repudiations across imperial lines between people. It suggests that the Caribbean, as an exotic location, fostered an empirical and experimental approach to medicine, based on observation and experience, informing new theories of disease causation and courses of treatment. It also describes the agricultural revolution that occurred in the Caribbean, along with deforestation. Finally, it explores how commodities such as gold, pearls, mahogany, and sugar generated a ‘boom’ or ‘wild west’ mentality.
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