Robert J. Mayhew (ed.), Debating Malthus: A Documentary Reader on Population, Resources and the Environment – University of Washington Press, May 2022

Robert J. Mayhew (ed.), Debating Malthus: A Documentary Reader on Population, Resources and the Environment – University of Washington Press, May 2022

For centuries, thinking about the earth’s increasing human population has been tied to environmental ideas and political action. This highly teachable collection of contextualized primary sources allows students to follow European and North American discussions about intertwined and evolving concepts of population, resources, and the natural environment from early contexts in the sixteenth century right through to the present day.

Edited and introduced by Robert J. Mayhew, a noted biographer of Thomas Robert Malthus—whose Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), excerpted here, is an influential and controversial take on the topic—this volume explores themes including evolution, eugenics, war, social justice, birth control, environmental Armageddon, and climate change. Other responses to the idea of new “population bombs” are represented here by radical feminist work, by Indigenous views of the population-environment nexus, and by intersectional race-gender approaches. By learning the patterns of this discourse, students will be better able to critically evaluate historical conversations as well as contemporary debates.

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