3. 3 March – River History

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March 3, 2015 at 10:39 #16746
 Josefin Heed

If possible please read both articles and come up with two or more discussion questions on both articles, you are also more than welcome to raise questions that will enhance a debate and make other student engage into your questions. For this seminar I feel like it would be a great opportunity for all of us to engage with each other and bring forward our ideas on other peoples ideas and questions. The purpose of the seminar will not for us students to engage with the speaker but rather to engage with each other and bring our diverse ideas and perspective together.

Everyone is more than welcome to read other material related to this topic if you want to gain in-depth knowledge about the topic, either from the same authors as prescribed in the schedule or by other authors. This might be useful in creating debatable discussions between us and the speaker..

March 3, 2015 at 18:18 #16765

Fanny’s reflection https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_1u7d6mo1Y1heZAIwgwGF1tFrq5MrA853DCN0r3E8n8/edit?usp=sharing

March 4, 2015 at 08:26 #16774

Reflections on seminar – Riverscape of Vienna Danube (Verena Winiwarter)

At the seminar we discussed the articles perspective on the subject Environmental history. I believe the researchers had a clear focus on the environmental aspects of the riverscape region, rather than the interaction between humans and nature. Even though the articles point to societal issues – the riverscape being a place where social order could be manifested and where those in power could demonstrate their control over nature – these do not seem to be in focus. From a socioeconomic as well as a cultural perspective it would certainly have been interesting to know more about the effects of the changes for the people in the area. Although information about this is included in the papers it seems to be secondary to the environmental changes. However, as was pointed out at the seminar, this may be a logical continuation of research in future articles. Future articles may also tell us more about how human interaction with the riverscape surrounding Vienna has affected other parts of the river, both in regards to the eco-system and the land- and river use. Hopefully this will also include more on the human conflicts, and potential for such conflicts.

Another interesting aspect that was discussed at the seminar was which, if any, historical narrative that the articles used. Some participants did seem to argue that the narrative was not prevalent in the articles, and that this gave the articles a more informational context. I could agree that the articles did not necessarily use strong narratives and were factual in nature, but I also feel that this indeed were their purpose. And I would also argue that many historians go to far in their use of narratives, which I believe can render historical research less credible. It is in my view therefore important that historians clearly states their intended narratives.

The articles also touch on past and present climate problems. It states that river morphology will change when thresholds are breached, and that experts are currently working to boost already forthcoming rearrangements of the riverscape. The articles, I would argue, strongly points to that climate change has been a deciding factor in some of the river alterations. In this regard it would be interesting to find out more about what conclusions can be drawn regarding future affects of climate change in the region, when weather phenomenon’s are expected to increase.

The seminar also included an interesting discussion on the researchers use of GIS technology. It appears that the technology has been proven to be invaluable for the historical surveys of the Vienna Danube riverscape. The articles also point out that the methods used in their study had been refined during the process. I believe it would be interesting to know if they have clear intentions for this refined techniques to be re-used for future riverscape research, both in the Vienna Danube region and elsewhere.

The articles also had a reiterating discussion on the reliability of historical cartographic information and other written historical sources of the riverscape, which I though was necessary to understand how the researcher had treated their historical sources. Both in regards to what this material intended to show in contemporary time as well as the fact that early geographical projection were less consistent and had a lower level of detail.

In all I believe that these research articles are a invaluable tool for further historical and archaeological research of the region, as well as for further research in the natural sciences.

March 4, 2015 at 08:40 #16775
 Ylva Lundkvist Fridh

Ylvas reflection: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-0ZD6WJxGa9tosh8u8779utA3C4VOVW-va-YBY2WiSg/edit?usp=docslist_api

March 4, 2015 at 13:23 #16790
 Henrik S

Henriks REFLECTION https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AiYWcQV2jCaFQYLQmPqBTs4tnmsIA5qbYtj1inQrhfc/edit

  • This reply was modified 2 years ago by  Henrik S.
March 4, 2015 at 14:48 #16792
 Meghan Buurmans

Reflection Meghan: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5DNLR1S1FTNWlVsTVBwQkUtajQ/view?usp=sharing

March 4, 2015 at 16:22 #16793

Comments on reflections by Ylva Lundkvist Fridh

Your reflections that the articles lack of comprehensible narrative are interesting and I agree with your view that the narrative was not directly prevalent. The articles did as you point out lack grand narratives and were factual in nature. My comment is that this likely was the researchers purpose. And, as I also argued in my reflections on the seminar, I believe many historians go to far in their use of narratives and that this instead risks rendering historical research less credible.

Unfortunately I was not able to attend the lecture with Professor Winiwarter. But from your accounts of Winiwarters answer – regarding the articles narratives – I seem to share her views regarding the risks of grand narratives. I also agree with you that the articles narrative emerges much more clearly when she stated that the articles narrative is one of human hubris throughout centuries of human interventions to the river, albeit still in a factual context. So I can certainly agree with Winiwarter regarding that these articles, much in line with her intentions, is a good foundation for future research. I also certainly agree with you that these articles, moving in the broad spectrum of Environmental history, are very much excellent history!

March 4, 2015 at 18:48 #16794
 Josefin Heed


March 5, 2015 at 00:30 #16796
 Lauri Jokinen

My reflection: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uxBiF8Z5BiZfWWVuPPIDfF2IpGZiE_oDkS-h6m-rBfE/edit?usp=sharing


March 5, 2015 at 01:11 #16797

Ghide Habtetsion Gebremichael
Reflection of Current debates 2nd seminar
River History: Reconstructing urban development at a moving river:
Uppsala University, 04 March 2015

This reflection paper is based on the morning seminar about the CURRENT DEBATE “River History: Reconstructing urban development at a moving river”. The paper didn’t included the afternoon seminar as I only attended the morning discussion seminar.

It was more an engagement among each other. The seminar was meant for critical review of the reconstruction of Danube River in and around the city of Vienna, Austria by assessing two articles written about it. Accordingly, we tried to evaluate and pinpoint the actual process in its construction process. Therefore, we started to share our opinions and thoughts on the articles.

The first opinion most of us brought to the table was “the article showed that on how people tried to control and shaping and reshaping nature”. On the flipside of the coin also it shows also the possibility of environmental reconstruction depending on the historical data. For example we discussed about the possibilities of GIS, cartography, maps, fluvial assessment and other historical records.

the articles the authors was claiming that the use of historical data with GIS is pretty difficult. Particularly the historical maps and other historical records were produced for different purpose in different time. As a matter of fact to get the accurate data needs interdisciplinary approach. Especially they termed one of the article as “one step forwards and two steps backwards” to signifies that to understand one historical evidence leads to search another earlier historical records.

Also we talked about the article being presenting only the facts and finding. As a result more argument was developed here ‘on why the author didn’t theorize the whole process of reconstruction of the river’. In addition to that another question was raised on the issue of “the article didn’t discuss on ecosystem of fauna and flora and societal aspect which are living around the bank of the river or how it might affect for their life”. However the historical facts which the authors assumed on the construction of the river, was helpful for environmental academics.

Lastly the discussed goes with more doubt about the environmental implications of this article. Like “is this mean using historical data alone is possible to reconstruct nature?, Is this mean that a new paradigm shift on the environmental view? Or is it more like an open assessment by the audience by providing finding and data?”

March 5, 2015 at 10:21 #16812
 Ylva Lundkvist Fridh

Ylvas comment on Henriks reflecion: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CLL6Ci2tIm3cR3zdRgaDWaI5bCAPv6RTRvFMbAfRKHc/edit?usp=sharing

March 5, 2015 at 12:40 #16814
 Miguel Núñez

A reflection about the use of scientific methodologies in the reconstruction of the history.

As we discussed in the seminar around the article “Changes in water and land: the reconstructed Viennese riverscape from 1500 to the present” a very important issue in the making of written history, is those about the narrative styles which are used as well the methodologies to reveal new information. On one hand, we discussed about the way to tell past stories in the present, and on the other hand we agreed that scientific methods as data collection, cartography, and math models are very useful in the real consistence of anyone history that we want to tell.
It’s important to do a explanation regarding with the differences between the narrative and the research methodologies used in a academic or literary works. The narrative is composed by the style, the tone, the period and disposition in a text in order to engage with the lector and take its attention. Meanwhile the methodologies are those specific skills which allow to discover new information or understand it in a new way. Such for example, in the case of the riverscape reconstructions through GIS technology, it’s possible understand, after the analysis of historical information, how the river changed across time in a specific place. But after the coming of the social scientificist’s comprehension he/she must assume the challenge before the better way of communication. Here appears the topic around the narrative and the adequate channels to transmit scientific knowledge.
In our common discussion, I talked about the social sense that the peoples give to themselves based on their knowledge and histories, which allow them to interpret their current context to take informed decisions for their futures. In this sense, the critic reflections around the lack of ecological or social sense from scientific investigations are demands from common people, which must be benefited by the advances of the science in the world. The conflicts between the scientific knowledge, in this case the historical reconstruction of the Viennese riverscape, and the people who living as inhabitants, has been well studied by scholars and they have founded those field called “civic science”.
In my practice as lawyer -it´s a hypothetical case- I could argue for example, that the modifications over the human habits caused by the modification of the Viennese rivership, is in direct relation with the extinction of fishes species and with the modification of the diet of Viennese habitants. In this case, the information designed by the scientific researcher about the changes of the river, could be useful to claim people rights to the health and the free alimentation, for example. In this way, personally I could give social sense to the scientific narratives about the history of one river.

March 5, 2015 at 17:27 #16818
 Henrik S

Reflection on Meghans reflection https://docs.google.com/document/d/1XJkhifor3C2k3S5BDlG-ehD6XlQYK3wNGwCHtuUpVcI/edit?usp=sharing

March 5, 2015 at 18:22 #16819
 Meghan Buurmans

Meghan’s comments on Josefin’s reflection:

I like how you use the concept of limits as the main theme in your reflection. It keeps the reflection logical and I believe that in sustainability, limits is one of the main concepts and concerns that we have to deal with. It is not something that I got from here during the lecture, but you are right that some of the examples she gave could illustrate limits very well. I guess the river is a physical example of how we have to adapt ourselves to limitations in the landscape, it literally pushes how we can or could live. , It is also an example of how we can complete change the landscape and what the dangers of that can be. I also like how you gave a practical example of why we need to learn from history, although it is a bit simplistic, this may convince some people who don’t really see the use of history. I agree that we always create facts, and maybe we should concern ourselves less with the distinction between facts and narratives and instead focus on trying to create these facts as well as we can.

March 6, 2015 at 19:34 #16862

Reflection on Peter’s reflection

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