The Challenge of Scale in Environmental History: A Small Meditation on a Large Matter


Some of the most crucial decisions a historian makes to frame a project involve scales. Scale implies a comparison, ordering elements by size, position, population, or more. In environmental history, scale manifests in at least five ways: temporal, spatial, cultural, organismal, and organizational. Using the example of mountains in South America, this article illustrates how different ways of thinking about scale can shape the questions we ask.