My thesis, The Historical Ontology of Environment: From the Unity of Nature to the Birth of Geopolitics [pdf], investigates the historical development of three concepts:

  1. Milieu
  2. Climate
  3. Environment

Altogether, it covers a period from antiquity to around the start of the twentieth century. It pays particular attention to how concepts pass between domains—for example, from physics and evolutionary biology to sociology, parliamentary politics, and geopolitical or geostrategic thinking (and vice versa).

Conceptually, I articulate this story in terms of ‘historical ontology.’ While this term is usually associated with Michel Foucault’s ‘genealogical’ histories, I reinterpret ontology to signify the different ways in which things are ‘received as real,’ by different collectives. My work also has, therefore, an extensive philosophical dimension.

This work is now the basis of a further research programme.