"The importance of empire to the shape of modern conservation cannot be in doubt. British imperialism grew with the emergence of capitalism. As capitalism grew most strongly in Britain, the British Empire came to overshadow the
empires of other European powers, and many British scientists were recruited to the service of empire in order to improve the technologies of ‘resource utilization’ and trade (Mackay, 1985). However, alongside this mercantile agenda,
the British imperial project also reflected the values of the broader European Enlightenment that had unfolded during the 18th century. Ushering in the Age of Reason, with its direct challenge to religious dogmatism, the European Enlightenment placed faith in the capacity of the rational human mind to order and conquer all – suggesting a superiority of mind over matter and of humans over ‘non-rational’ nature."
"In its imperialist vision, ‘civilized’ Europe, bearing the torch of reason, had a duty to enlighten the rest of the world, conquering wildness and bringing order and rationality to ‘uncivilized’ peoples and nature. The mission of British colonialism was not only to enrich the imperial metropole, but also, in so doing, to ‘improve’ the world. In the name of the imperial endeavour, peoples and nature were subjected to conquest and control, harnessed and transformed to serve projects of agricultural improvement, industrialization and trade (MacKenzie, 1990a; Grove, 1995; Drayton, 2000)."
"The colonial period saw a distinctive pattern of engagement with nature: a destructive, utilitarian and cornucopian view of the feasibility of yoking nature to economic gain. Where did these ideas come from? The bedrock of colonial ideas about nature was the European Enlightenment, and the fundamental Cartesian dualism between humans and nature. The idea that ‘man’ and nature were separate formed the world view of the pioneers of imperial trade, and of the annexation of the tropics and the new worlds in Asia, the Americas and Australasia."
"Rationality has four dimensions. The first is the development of science and technology: ‘the calculated, systematic expansion of the means to understand and manipulate nature’, and the scientific world view’s ‘belief in the mastery of nature and of humans through increased scientific and technical knowledge’ (Murphy, 1994, p28). The second dimension of rationalization is the expansion of the capitalist economy (with its rationally organized and, in turn, organizing market); the third dimension is formal hierarchical organization (the creation of executive government, translating social action into rationally organized action). The fourth is the elaboration of a formal legal system (to manage social conflict and promote the predictability and calculability of the consequences of social action). All these things were features of colonial states."