An Ecological History in the Middle Ages? Theoretical bases and sources
By Cristina Segura Graíño
Imago temporis: medium Aevum, No.3 (2009)
Abstract: This article presents the possibilities offered of building a History, in this case of the Middle Ages, that considers the relations people have had with the natural spaces and ihe urban environment where their lives have developed. I defend the need for a History of those concerns that are nowadays considered ecological. To this end, I weigh up the possibilities of the documentary sources, present the theoretical bases, show a working method and methodology and evaluate the bibliographical sources. The eco-feminists approaches are emphasised, indicating the possibilities offered by the difference in the relations between women and men with the environment they live in.
Introduction: Since the late 1970s, my main dedication has been to women’s history, though I have always maintained other lines of research in which I have sought and noted the importance of women in any historical process. It was the late nineties when I started to emphasize the differences in the relationships that men and women have held and maintained throughout the history with nature, with natural spaces and the modified areas. Moreover, that was when the translation of studies and research began into an emerging trend within Women’s Studies, Eco-feminism. My interest in this made me think about the possibility and need to build an ecological history and show the possible concern in medieval societies for the environment in which the activities of men and women took place. This would be done to assess whether these relationships were similar or had differences and especially if there was an awareness of the deterioration of nature and the consequences this might have on people. I believe that this thought, in its possible existence, is the basis for the construction of an ecological history.
In this paper I will try to show the contents of ecological history that should not be confused with agrarian history or the economic history of rural areas. To build an ecological history requires a theoretical basis and methodology, different from other historical constructions, but there may undoubtedly he contributions from consolidated methodologies. Similarly, the sources, that are normal for any historical development, should be subjected to a special treatment. These will be the contents of this article, togcther with an approximate state of the art with reference to the ecological history in medieval Spain.