Journal of the History of Biology

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 15–41 | Cite as

Translocal Ecologies: The Norfolk Broads, the “Natural,” and the International Phytogeographical Excursion, 1911

  • Laura Cameron
  • David Matless
Special issue: Environmental History


What we consider “nature” is always historical and relational, shaped in contingent configurations of representational and social practices. In the early twentieth century, the English ecologist A.G. Tansley lamented the pervasive problem of international misunderstandings concerning the nature of “nature.” In order to create some consensus on the concepts and language of ecological plant geography, Tansley founded the International Phytogeographical Excursion, which brought together leading plant geographers and botanists from North America and Europe. The first IPE in August 1911 started with the Norfolk Broads. It was led by Marietta Pallis, Tansley’s former student at Cambridge. This trip and the work of Pallis, neglected in other accounts of this early period of the history of ecology, influenced the relations between Tansley and important American ecologists H.C. Cowles and F.E. Clements. Understanding “place” as a network of relations, our regional focus shows how taking international dialogue, travel and interchange into account enriches understanding of ecological practice.


place “nature” translocality ecological practice social relations of science Norfolk Broads International Phytogeographical Excursion Marietta Pallis  A.G. Tansley Edith Clements F.E. Clements H.C. Cowles England twentieth-century 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.School of GeographyUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK

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