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.