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* Adam Smith in the Forest

* Adam Smith in the Forest

(p.45) 4 * Adam Smith in the Forest
The Social Lives of Forests
Fredrik Albritton Jonsson
University of Chicago Press

This chapter highlights several Scottish forest history themes that have modern echoes. Through a discussion of the Caledonian forests of Scotland, the chapter explores the idea of a “primal forest” and its conjectural histories through: (1) their supposed destruction by either by Roman legions (colonialism) or peasants; (2) the idea that restoration managed by aristocrats and natural historians would return Scotland's forests to their ancient and authentic state; (3) that forests embodied a moral order; and (4) competing narratives of nature management: On the one side, unstable, yet iconic landscapes that needed to be managed by the crown, aristocrats, or natural historians, on the other the self-regulating action of harmonious and equitable trade in timber that leached landscapes of their symbolic content and treated them as pure commodities, ideally affected through markets. Adam Smith rejected the symbolism of landscapes for a world of unsentimental exchange and mutual advantage, and lauded the international markets that brought Norwegian woods for the construction of Edinburgh.

Keywords:   Scotland, Caledonian forests, conjectural histories, ideologies of forest management, environmental history, forest trade, Adam Smith

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