Using a transdisciplinary approach for environmental crisis research in History

06 August 2010

Although it is true that each local area or region possesses its own historiography – and for that matter its own environmental historiography – there should not be much difference in the research methodology, sources and pitfalls or drawbacks of doing environmental history research in labelled environmental crisis areas. This article presents a concise historiography on dealing with environmental crisis in literature is provided. This is followed by a proposed transdisciplinary (TD)-methodological structure that can serve as a guideline to specifically to environmental historians, and perhaps other disciplines in the humanities, that studying local or regional environmental crises. A local environment in South Africa, namely the Far West Rand, serves as an example for conducting TD research that features an environmental crisis. The paper concludes by also, amongst others, suggesting that environmental historians and other environmental experts in a variety of fields and disciplines in South Africa and Africa should form an Environmental Studies Association to support one another, particularly in their efforts to work together in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary ways with researchers from a broad range of academic fields. This paper therefore serves merely as a debate to open up discussions for refining the perspectives and existing methodologies of research in environmental history.