Anticipatory history asserts that the stories we tell about our history (whether it's the history of people or landscape or ecology or language for example) shapes our perception of what might be called future 'plausabilities'.
Talking of the move to cull rats on Lundy island (off the West coast of England), anticipatory history notes that the 'scientific evidence' for culling rats to protect puffins is neither objective nor value free. In fact, there are numerous moral decisions involved in deciding to:
Reviewing the book, Anticipatory History, on the Mythogeography website, CrabMan (Phil Smith) has this to say:
"Driving the assemblage is the idea of a future-orientated history - to the side of Hayden White’s proposal for a ‘progressive history’ that looks on the past as resources for the sustenance of future human and ecological communities rather than for the delineation of former events or a genealogically legitimised present. Sharing White’s futurism, but sidestepping its grandeur, DeSilvey and Naylor instead propose in their Introduction a ‘re-vision-ist history’ that interrogates the way that the past is envisioned “in place”, at least partly to inform more effectively, by looking backwards as much as futuristically, ‘anticipatory adaptations’ (interventions that entangle with latent environmental vulnerabilities before the impact of climate change is felt).
Anticipatory History folds apocalyptic-thinking back on itself, re-locating loss of species, erosion and climate change to the past as much as the future, while challenging ideas of stability and constancy curled up inside conservation and retreat, pointing to the dynamism that has moulded places that are valued and defended. Against permanence and for process, ‘anticipatory history’ proposes itself as better equipped for future changes, responsive without regret or lament, telling stories (while discussing their effects) about specific, vibrant and volatile landscapes and about future ‘plausabilities’ for their adaptation to sustainable futures."
Mythogeography - reviews page