Mobilizing nature

The environmental history of war and militarization in modern France

By Chris Pearson

Mobilizing nature


  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8439-3
  • Pages: 320
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: September 2012
  • BIC Category: c 1940 to c 1949, NATURE / Environmental Conservation & Protection, HISTORY / Military / General, HISTORY / Europe / France, Humanities / European history, Humanities / Second World War, History, Second World War, Modern warfare, European history
  • Series: Cultural History of Modern War


Mobilizing nature traces the environmental history of war and militarisation in France, from the creation of Châlons Camp in 1857 to military environmentalist policies in the twentieth century. It offers a fresh perspective on the well-known histories of the Franco-Prussian War, Western Front (1914-18), Second World War, Cold War and the anti-base campaign at Larzac, whilst uncovering the largely 'hidden' history of the numerous military bases and other installations that pepper the French countryside. Mobilising nature argues that the history of war and militarisation can only be fully understood if human and environmental histories are considered in tandem. Preparing for and conducting wars were only made possible through the active manipulation and mobilisation of topographies, climatic conditions, vegetation and animals. But the military has not monopolised the mobilisation of nature. Protesters against militarisation have consistently drawn on images of peaceful and productive civilian environments as the preferable alternative to destructive tanks and bombs.

Written in an accessible style, Mobilizing nature will appeal to readers interested in modern France, environmental history, military geographies and histories, anti-military protests, and environmentalism.


In sum, Pearson lucidly weaves together the environmental and social legacy of relations between the French military and civilians, in wartime and peacetime. He does full justice to the role of the military in the complex and unpredictable flow of French history.


1 The Emperor's new camp (1857-70)
2 Militarized environments during the "terrible year" (1870-71)
3 Remaking militarized environments in the wake of defeat (1871-1914)
4 The 'mangled earth' of the trenches (1914-18)
5 Demilitarization and militarization (1918-40)
6 Occupied territories (1940-67)
7 'A (very) large military camp': The militarization of postwar France
8 Opposing militarized environments
9 "Greening" militarized environments
Select bibliography


Chris Pearson is Lecturer in Twentieth Century History at the University of Liverpool

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