Art and the History of Environmental Law

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This article is an initial exploration of what the history of environmental law can learn from the arts. Looking mainly at visual art, supplemented by occasional glances in the direction of literary works, it asks what, if anything, we can learn about the environmental law of the industrialized West of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries before 1970, when environmental problems abounded but before there was “environmental law.”

The paper concludes that art can provide a valuable set of historical sources for understanding the cultural attitudes toward the environment against which environmental law did or did not develop. It can also help evaluate the effects of environmental law, particularly as these were perceived in history. While its utility for uncovering environmental law itself is probably more limited, it can at least suggest lines of historical inquiry into the presence of environmental law and the form it took.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-349
JournalCritical Analysis of Law
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015


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