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The Matter of History: How Things Create The Past

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New insights into the microbiome, epigenetics, and cognition are radically challenging our very idea of what it means to be 'human', while an explosion of neo-materialist thinking in the humanities has fostered a renewed appreciation of the formative powers of a dynamic material environment. The Matter of History brings these scientific and humanistic ideas together to develop a bold, new post-anthropocentric understanding of the past, one that reveals how powerful organisms and things help to create humans in all their dimensions, biological, social, and cultural. Timothy J. LeCain combines cutting-edge theory and detailed empirical analysis to explain the extraordinary late-nineteenth century convergence between the United States and Japan at the pivotal moment when both were emerging as global superpowers. Illustrating the power of a deeply material social and cultural history, The Matter of History argues that three powerful things - cattle, silkworms, and copper - helped to drive these previously diverse nations towards a global 'Great Convergence'.

. Brings together neo-materialist thinking from a wide variety of disciplines

. Proposes a bold new theory of history that emphasizes the many ways that humans are deeply embedded in a material world

. Provides a detailed, empirically driven application of the neo-materialist theory and method with a detailed comparative study

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LeCain Timothy
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Timothy J. LeCain is the author of the prize-winning book Mass Destruction (2009). He was a Senior Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich, Germany, and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Oslo, Norway. He is an Associate Professor of History at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.

1. Fellow travelers: the non-human things that make us human

2. We never left Eden: the religious and secular marginalization of matter

3. Natural born humans: a neo-materialist theory and method of history

4. The longhorn: the animal intelligence behind American open range ranching

5. The silkworm: the innovative insects behind Japanese modernization

6. The copper atom: conductivity and the great convergence of Japan and the West

7. The matter of humans: beyond the Anthropocene and towards a new humanism.

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You: A Natural History
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