ESEH Conference 2023

Keynote Speakers

Claudia M Leal, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia

25 August 2023 | 11:15am-12:45pm | UniS – S003

Tenacious: An alternative history of dogs from across the ocean

Claudia Leal was born and raised at 2.600 meters in Bogotá, Colombia, where she is full professor at the Department of History and Geography at Universidad de los Andes; currently, she is also global faculty at the University of Cologne in Germany. She doubles as geographer and historian, and uses an environmental lens to explore old historical questions, such as state formation and the building of freedom in the aftermath of slavery. She researches national parks, forests, water management, and animals mostly in her home country, while also contributing to build a general environmental history of Latin America.

Spaniards who arrived in the Americas used the word gozque to scorn native dogs, who reminded them of similar ones from home whose insignificance made them unfit to be designated with the real name. These and other creatures who have been called so—and tolerated, cherished, and persecuted—have been part of human lives and environments across centuries. The tenacity of these underdogs has made them historical actors who can shed light on the conundrums of sharing a planet in peril.  

Jon Matthieu

Jon Mathieu, University of Lucerne

22 August 2023 | 11:15am-12:45pm | UniS – S003

Sacred Mountains. Environmental History and Religion

Jon Mathieu is Editor-in-chief of the journal "Histories", and Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Lucerne. He was the founding director of the Institute of Alpine History at the University of Ticino and has published widely about the history of mountain regions, e.g. The Third Dimension. A Comparative History of Mountains in the Modern Era (2011); The Alps. An Environmental History (2019); Mount Sacred. A Brief Global History of Holy Mountains Since 1500 (2023).

Mount Kailash in Asia, the Black Hills in North America, Uluru in Australia: around the globe, numerous mountains have been and continue to be attributed sacredness. This lecture looks at the cultural diversity of sacred mountains and situates their exploration both in recent research and in ecological policy and practice. How should we deal with religion as environmental historians?

Mount Sacred. A Brief Global History of Holy Mountains Since 1500 (english)
Mount Sacred. Eine kurze Globalgeschichte der heiligen Berge seit 1500 (deutsch)

Plenary Roundtable
Environmental History and Public Policy

Followed by a series of Science for Policy Workshops

23 August 2023 | 11:15am-12:45pm | UniS – S003

With the climate and biodiversity crisis, and the ongoing pandemic, there has been increasing interest on the part of public policy actors across the globe to draw on environmental science in responding to the emerging threats and in implementing the green transformation. This growing interest, and the current global crisis, is also a call to arms for environmental historians. However, like most of the humanities, our community’s engagement with public policy making has been very limited and we lack both the experience and visibility needed to become partners in the process of policy development. The aim of the plenary discussion and of the workshop series that will follow it in the course of the ESEH 2023 is to provide a strong impetus for the environmental history community to engage with public policy in Europe and beyond.

The plenary is sponsored by EnvHist4P.

The plenary session is conceived as a meeting platform for environmental historians and policy stakeholders. It will be the forum for environmental historians to showcase their work and engage with the feedback from politicians and policy-makers, and to foster new, more practically oriented debate within our community. The plenary will last 90 minutes and will consist of three parts:

1)  Lightning talks by selected environmental historians:

  • Davide Orsini (Rachel Carson Center ) – «Energy and climate crises: the eternal return of nuclear power and the question of containment»
  • Simone Müller (Augsburg) – «Toxic Commons. Why the Chemical IPCC needs the Humanities»
  • Karla Garcia (Bielefeld) – «Rights of Nature»
  • Amanda Power (Oxford) – «Why historians are essential to public policy-making for climate adaptation»
  • Joschka Meier (Bern) – «Skiing, Switzerland and Sustainability: Learning from the past to adapt to the future»

2)  Feedback discussion with the plenary speakers
3)  Open debate between the public and the speakers

Throughout the conference, the plenary speakers will offer workshop sessions on how to engage with policy in different institutional and thematic contexts.

0613-495: Introduction to Science for Policy
1012-496: UN & development policy