10th Biennial conference of the European Society for Environmental History (ESEH)

Boundaries in/of Environmental History


Tallinn, Estonia, 21 to 25 August 2019

Hosting institution: Estonian Centre for Environmental History (KAJAK), Tallinn University.

The European Society for Environmental History (ESEH) is pleased to invite proposals for sessions, individual papers, roundtables, posters and other, more experimental forms of communicating scholarship for its 2019 biennial conference.

Boundary studies is a rapidly growing field of interdisciplinary research that is increasingly relevant in historical research, for example, through studies on trans-national or migration histories, global and colonial environments, relations of humans and animals or technical systems. After a successful conference in Zagreb where we tackled boundaries as contact zones in between, we would like to turn inwards and address the phenomenon of boundaries as internal processes. An environmental historian negotiates constantly the boundaries of its own field and others, but also the boundaries between humans and non-humans, environment and technology, bodily and external, local and global. None of these boundaries are fixed, but constantly redrawn and challenged. Boundary zones mediate the contacts with other areas and act as filters for innovation, where difference and similarity need to be constantly negotiated and enacted.

Highly relevant for environmental history are ecological boundaries that create various possibilities and affordances by their sheer existence but that can in their turn be re-drawn by human activities; or geographical boundaries that create different contact zones, facilitate or complicate communication and migration of humans and non-human nature. All these different boundaries may coincide with current administrative boundaries but most often they do not and are differently practiced by humans and non-human agents. Often, the boundaries can shift or change their character. A river or sea that once was a connecting path for boats, now means an obstacle for those crossing a terrain in a petrol-powered vehicle. An infinite object such as our planet can become a bounded and finite phenomenon. An external technical system such as nuclear power plant can become infused with our bodies through radiation.

Our particular interest lies in trans-national co-formation of environments, ecological niches, cross-overs, hybrids, migration; boundaries as mechanisms for creating new possibilities, opening up new channels for information exchange, facilitating coexistence of different groups, both humans and other species. The concept of boundary is also appropriate for bringing attention to the inherently interdisciplinary nature of environmental history and highlighting methods of participatory and activist research.

Possible topics to be discussed under the umbrella concept of boundaries, include, but are not limited to the following:

● Hybridisation, transcorporeality, post-humanism and more-than-human histories;

● Industrial and agricultural impact on environment and biocultural diversity,

● Envirotechnical systems, nature protection, resource use;

● Environmental justice, colonialism and global environments, migration, conflicts, environmental legacies of wars, health and disease;

● Planetary boundaries and the Anthropocene, temporal and spatial boundaries in historical climate and climate change, ecosystem boundaries;

● Inter- and trans-disciplinary, transnational and cross-regional environmental histories of Europe, environmental humanities and popular culture;

● Boundaries in time: new chronologies in environmental history;

● Crossing boundaries in/of scientific knowledge: pedagogical challenges of teaching environmental history.

​​​​The conference accepts also papers on environmental history that do not fall under the umbrella topic of boundaries.

Diversity policy: The conference covers all periods and all areas of the globe and is open to scholars from all disciplines and backgrounds. In order to strengthen diversity at the conference, we are giving preference to panels where the presenters come from different regions within or beyond Europe, different institutions or different disciplines. We also encourage the presenting teams to observe gender and age balance and to use emergent scholars as session chairs, in order to provide better visibility to younger generations of historians. Graduate students will be offered a special reduced fee.

To diversify the forms of presentation, we encourage submission in formats that introduce a clash of perspectives, interpretations, or methodologies. For example,

 Formats permitting a joint discussion of a single theme or book as a part of the panel session.
 Formats that allow sharply focused commentary from the audience early on.

 Formats in which a single, major paper, primary source material, film, or book is the subject of attention and on which other papers and all the commentary are focused. 

 Panels in which participants present one another’s work rather than their own.

 Roundtables that examine teaching in the field or that explore innovative approaches to teaching a particular subject.

Each person can be a primary presenter in onlyone panel, roundtable, or other session proposal, but can also serve as a chair or commentator in a second session proposal.

The conference language is English; no submissions in other languages will be accepted. All proposals will be reviewed by the ESEH program committee.

Questions about proposals should be directed to the Head of the Program Committee, Prof. Finn Arne Jørgensen, University of Stavanger, through the email conference@eseh.org.

Submittals should be made through the ESEH website. Click HERE to go to the submission page. The deadline for submittals is November 14, 2018

You can download the full call text HERE