In History 501, we have encountered the Annales school of history a few times. The most notable example is the first book we read, The Historian’s Craft by Marc Bloch. With Lucien Febvre, Bloch founded the journal Annales d’histoire économique et sociale in 1929. Among other things, the Annales school of thought associated with this journal promoted the importance of geography and its relation to history. That is, the Annales school pioneered ideas of non-human causation in history.
Because of the Annalistes attention to geography and the physical world, many environmental historians recognize the Annales school as an important precursor to their field. In his discussion of the influence of the Annalistes, J.R. McNeill states, “their [the Annales historians] general approach … proved inspirational for many who would become environmental historians.” McNeill, however, also doubts the extent or importance of the Annalistes influence on environmental history. He is not alone in this opinion.
In my historiographical essay, I plan to explore this historiographical debate through examination of the extent of the influence of the Annalistes on environmental history. Of course, it is neither practical nor informative to look at the influence of the entire Annales school on the entire field of environmental history. Because of this, I will specifically assess the effect of Fernand Braudel (1902-1985), a prominent Annales historian who developed the concept of longue durée.
From my research thus far, it is clear that Braudel’s influences is acknowledged in some branches of environmental history and partially acknowledged in others; furthermore, some scholars reject Annales influence altogether. To assess Braudel’s influence, then, I will examine three regions of study within environmental history: North America, China, and Europe. I will sample foundational works in environmental history from each area, and examine the ways in which Braudelian influence is apparent.
Recently, Professor Rothman warned that “influence” is a rather slippery idea. I agree, and thus I will approach it in two different ways. First, many environmental historians have directly acknowledged Braudel’s influence, and so it is possible to examine how and where they see the effects of Braudel in their work. Included in this, I will look at historiographical essays that trace the origins of the field, to see where historians acknowledge Braudelian roots. Second, I will compare this alleged influence to the ways in which Braudel’s ideas are evident in environmental history texts, whether directly cited or not.
 J.R. McNeill, “Observations on the Nature and Culture of Environmental History,” History and Theory 42, no. 4 (2003), 14.
 A quick definition of longue durée is “long-term.” It is a concept of time that examines historical change within a large time horizon.