CfP: ESEH Biennial Conference 2019


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 trans­national 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 non­humans, 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 re­drawn by human activities; or geographical boundaries that create different contact zones, facilitate or complicate communication and migration of humans and non­human nature. All these different boundaries may coincide with current administrative boundaries but most often they do not and are differently practiced by humans and non­human 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 trans­national co­-formation of environments, ecological niches, cross­overs, 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 trans­disciplinary, 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 also accepts papers on environmental history that do not fall under the umbrella topic of boundaries.

The deadline for submittals is October 31, 2018.

Place/Ort: Tallinn, Estonia
Time/Zeit: 21 - 25 August 2019

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