ESEH Conference 2023

Summer School Val d'Anniviers (Commons)

Common pool resources in the «visual turn» – collective alpine pastures, forests and waters in the first half of the 20th century

Date: 17–20 August 2023
Location: Grimentz (Val d’Anniviers)

The history of Common Pool Resources (CPR) has been discussed under the aspect of sustainability since Elinor Ostrom's «Governing the commons» (1990) and increasingly since she was awarded the Nobel Prize for it (2009). If one considers the classic collective resources of alpine pastures, forests and waters from this perspective, one is immediately struck by the extraordinarily dynamic development they have undergone during the 20th century. The Summer School will focus on this transformation, which we will analyse in the sense of the «visual turn» in environmental history using local historical photo collections dating from the first half of the 20th century.


The Summer School consists of lectures, presentations and excursions to venues in the Val d’Anniviers (canton of Valais) where local resources are still used as common goods. The participants will work with historical photos on collective management of alpine pastures, forests and waters above all from this region. Methodical questions on how to analyse and interpret these sources are a main topic of the workshop. All Summer School participants are expected to give a short presentation of visual historical material of their own region of research in order to get a comparative view on the phenomena of commons. These presentations are followed by in-depth discussion of all participants and lecturers. The presentation instructions will be provided to the accepted Summer School participants in early 2023. In addition, we will create together some image-based presentations over the course, which will be imbedded in the participatory platform «Swiss Commons in a European Context» (under development). The students will be awarded 5 ECTS for their participation.

  • Simona Boscani Leoni (Université de Lausanne, history)
  • Ulrike Felsing (HKB Bern, arts)
  • Tobias Haller (University of Bern, social anthropology)
  • Louis Hechenblaikner (Reith i. Alpbachtal, photography: commitment pending)
  • Jesper Larsson (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala)
  • Luigi Lorenzetti (Università della Svizzera Italiana/ Laboratorio di Storia delle Alpi, Mendrisio)
  • Gaëtan Morard (Bisses du Valais, ethnobiology)

Organisors Summer School Val d'Anniviers

To apply, submit a short CV (max. two pages), letter of motivation (max. 400 words), and short abstract (max. 250 words) of your PhD/postdoc research project in a single PDF file via online application and fill in the application details. We are working on grant application to cover full board accommodation over the Summer School as well as international travel costs to the venue and back for all Summer School participants (note that the ESEH 2023 conference fee or accommodation in Bern over the conference is not included in the grant). For further information, please contact,

The successful Summer School applicants will be informed in November 2022.