Of all of the words in the English language, culture and nature are two of the most complicated and multi-faceted, making any discussion of “culture” in the context of environment–society relations fraught with complexity. The Latin word cultura, from which “culture” is derived, had the primary meaning of cultivation or husbandry, the process of tending natural growth, especially crops or animals. The concept was eventually extended to the process of human development, and “culture” was often used in the 18th century as a synonym for “civilization.” In the late 17th century, Matthew Arnold introduced the notion of culture as high culture, that which is beautiful, sublime, and perfect, the best of what has been thought and said. In this view, culture is embodied by ...

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