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December 8, 2015 at 11:06 #17612
Ylva Lundkvist FridhParticipant
Current Themes and Debates in Global Environmental History:
The course will be examined with a final essay (maxim 5 pages) consisting of a diary of the lectures and associated reflections and your own reflection summarising the course. Note that grades will be based only on this final assignment.
To fulfill the requirements of the course you have attended/or submit complimentary tasks (se below) for at least 10 seminars. Also note which seminars you organised. In your final examination assignment:
1. List all seminars you have attended
2. List seminars for which you submit complimentary tasks
3. List seminars you have led
The add a 5 page diary-of seminar reflections and feedback/feedback you have given from your colleagues. You are welcome to quote from your reflections but use a formal reference system when referring to the literature. Use the course portal for submissions.
Complementary tasks (if you have not attended 10 seminars)
Select one of the seminars with reflection linked
1. Read the course literature
2. Read all your fellow students reflections on discussion forum and post a 2 page reflection on the discussion forum.December 8, 2015 at 11:13 #17613
Ylva Lundkvist FridhParticipantDecember 29, 2015 at 20:17 #17614
Current Debates in Environmental History – Final assignment
1. February 17th 2014, Jason Moore
Moore J.W. 2012. Cheap Food & Bad Money: Food, Frontiers, and Financialization in the Rise and Demise of Neoliberalism, Review: A Journal of the Fernand Braudel Center 33(2-3).
Moore J.W. 2011. Ecology, Capital, and the Nature of Our Times: Accumulation and Crisis in the Capitalist World-Ecology, Journal of World-Systems Research 17(1), 108-147.
Moore J.W. 2010. The End of the Road? Agricultural Revolutions in the Capitalist World-Ecology, 1450-2010, Journal of Agrarian Change 10(3), 389-413.
2. Alf Hornborg March 4th 2014
Reading: Hornborg, A. 2012. Global Ecology and Unequal Exchange: Fetishism in a Zero-Sum World. Routledge.
3. Carolyn Merchant (led with Mirabel Joshi) Science History, Ecology and the Idea of Nature
Reading: The Death of Nature Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution 1980 Harper one. Preparation: Before the seminar watch the lecture by Carolyn Merchant “Environmentalism from the Control of Nature to Partnership” UC Berkeley Graduate Council Lectures 7/26/2010 (58 mins) http://www.uctv.tv/shows/Environmentalism-From-the-Control-of-Nature-to-Partnership-with-Carolyn-Merchant-19243
Attended from abroad:
4. Libby Robbins, Australian environmental history, September 8th 2014: History, Conservation and politics, the example of Australia
5. October 6th 2014 Science and Poetry Mary Midgley
6. October 20th 2014 Kenneth Worthy (organised from abroad) Invisible Nature 2013
7. Joseph Tainter, November 3rd 2014, The collapse of complex societies
8. Mentorship in environmental history (Sept 22nd 2015)
9. October 28th 2015, From natural to cultural landscapes: agriculture, co-evolution and change perspectives from the middle east. Reading: From Natural Environment to Human Landscape: New Archaeobotanical Data from the Neolithic Site of Nahal Zippori 3, Lower Galilee_Neo-lithic 1, 2014, pp. 33-41 Valentina Caracuta, Max Planck-Weizmann Center,
10. December 1st 2015, William Cronon, The trouble with wilderness & The uses of environmental history
My reflection about the course
Current debates in Environmental History
In April 2013, Harry Kreisler of the University of California Berkeley interviewed Professor William Cronon, a leading figure in environmental history, in order to discuss the life and work of an environmental historian. Cronon, a fascinating academic figure emphasised the importance of the narrative in history in which captivating the reader is paramount. A story can be narrated through many ways, Cronon emphasised, and each way can help us understand it differently. When Kreisler asked Cronon to summarise what environmental history is, the latter explained that environmental history is the narrative of the interactions between humans and nature, the history of nature but also of men’s ideas about it. Because environmental history can be told through many different ways, using different narratives, it is no surprise that it is subject to debate. Indeed, several versions of the same story may coexist.
It is undoubtable that in the midst of an unprecedented ecological crisis, the history of man’s relationship towards nature is subject to debate. Cronon actually reminded in this same interview the coexistence of two opposite narratives: the history of the frontier progress, told by Frederick Jackson Turner in which the civilisation gradually conquered the savage wilderness, a Hegelian narrative, praising men for their progress in material matters, and the opposite narrative told lately by a flock of environmentalists, the narrative of the fall. This latter narrative recounts the story of humanity’s divorce from nature and the gradual destruction of it and finally of itself through industrialisation and colonisation of the five continents. In this narrative, men are the guilty species to be eliminated from the surface of the Earth if the planet is to recover.
Eventually, Cronon concludes that both narratives are overly simplistic and that we need a more in depth kind of environmental history in order to understand the relationship between human societies and nature.
The seminars offered through the course “Current debates in environmental history” enabled us as aspiring environmental historians to understand more closely the sophistication and subtleties of environmental history. Here, I will review what I have learned from those seminars and from my colleagues’ reactions in 2014-2015.
I- The end of capitalism
The very first seminar I attended as part of this course was about the American sociologist Jason Moore and his ideas of capitalism as world-ecology. I really enjoyed reading Moore’s articles and fondly agree with the idea that capitalism has been relying on unsustainable parameters, what he names the four cheaps (cheap food, cheap raw materials, cheap labour power and cheap energy). As Anna Shoemaker stated, Moore questions whether the neoliberal world system will be able to re-establish the conditions for an additional wave of accumulation. Is more accumulation possible, despite the depletion of most of the world’s resources? Kristina Berglund rightfully wonders what could replace capitalism. Moore emphasises that we stand at a turning point in which we must make decisions. Like Sabbath Sunday, I contend that capitalism is simply shifting into financial hegemonies which continue to degrade the environment by causing agro-ecological exhaustion, crop diseases, climate change, and chronic indebtedness among the poor states.
American economist Jason Moore is not the only one to point out capitalism’s shortcomings. In Global Ecology and Unequal Exchange (2012), Alf Hornborg highlighted the social inequalities concealed behind the capitalist veil. As Nick Hirschstein emphasised, current technology has driven us to an unsustainable globalised economy. I agree with Nick that if we are to use technology sustainably we should switch to a local system because a global system of exchange appears profoundly unequal. Indeed, although as Morag Ramsey reminded technology is imagined as politically innocent (quoting Hornborg 35), it actually conceals many social inequalities.
It was emphasised in this seminar that “technology”, “economy” and “ecology” are cultural categories that should not be thought as separate entities. Hornborg indeed conceives them as profoundly intertwined. Kristina reminds us that a central component of Hornborg’s argument is the concept of “machine fetishism”, the faith in machines without the understanding of their social and ecological impact.
I believe that the debate around technology is crucial within current debates in environmental history. Indeed, technology takes such an important place in our lives today that questioning the origin of the machines we rely on is a very touchy subject. But we cannot obliterate the egregious truth: technology is a modern form of slavery, saving somebody’s time and energy at the expense of another’s time, energy and environmental resources. As Kristina Berglund wrote drawing on Hornborg, modern society is based on an unequal exchange which has benefited to a small part of the world’s population at the expense of the less privileged people’s space and time. Hornborg highlights that we must acknowledge connections between areas and places in the world, and thus adopt a holistic view of environmental history.
The issues of capitalism and unequal exchange appear paramount to me, and should be examined in depth and narrated with the subtleties Cronon encouraged us to adopt. Nothing is black and white in environmental history. Both Hornborg’s and Moore’s analysis pertinently illustrate how environmental history can help dismantle capitalism and foretell its destruction.
II- Overthrowing dichotomies
The course CDEH has enabled me to overthrow the dichotomies that resided in my mind. Cronon, Merchant, Worthy, all unabashedly denounced the illusory idea of a pristine wilderness. There is no frontier between wilderness and humans. We are Nature. Many scholars have written about the harmful consequences of the gap between nature and humans. Among them, the ecofeminist philosopher Carolyn Merchant argued that the Scientific Revolution has brought a new worldview, the mechanistic worldview. According to Merchant, in pre-modern times, the Earth was considered as a living organism, a nurturing mother that needed to be cared for, but the Scientific Revolution with its close-contained experiments, has instituted the idea that the world is made up of dead matter, like a clock-governed machine. According to Merchant, the mechanistic worldview and Francis Bacon’s philosophy have prevailed in the Western world and still rules today, leading us to a global ecological crisis. As Kristina Berglund wrote, Merchant contends that the rise of industrialism saw the destruction of the environment paralleled with the worsening of women’s oppression in an unprecedented manner. I am also intrigued by this relevant parallelism.
But by pointing out at the dichotomist thinking, aren’t environmental philosophers actually displaying a dichotomist thought pattern? Indeed, I am interested in Mirabel Joshi’s opinion for whom the division between an organic and mechanistic worldview represents an oversimplification that is not helpful. Mirabel suggested that this type of generalisation remains useless in an academic argument.
Another scholar who shares similar opinions than Merchant is Kenneth Worthy. Indeed, Worthy comes from a similar education background. Both scholars teach at the University of California, Berkeley. Worthy also repeatedly condemns Western thinking for its dichotomist patterns. I was particularly impressed by Nisa Dedic’s reflection on Kenneth Worthy’s book. Nisa wrote honestly about her dismay while reading Worthy’s book that his reflection mainly relies on the assumption that “Western” relates to the birth of philosophical inquiry in ancient Greece which seems totally unfair to her. Nisa points at the numerous times when we have been told that Descartes constitutes a milestone in history of ideas, when the sharp divisions of mind and body and spirit and matter have emerged. As Nisa wrote, many of us gained prejudices against him as a philosopher and maybe we should avoid being so critical towards such philosophers.
Although I agree with Nisa that oversimplifications between Western and non-Western modes of thinking are not helpful to environmental historians, I do agree with Kenneth Worthy that the dissociation between nature and us has led us to harm nature and thus threatens our very survival on Earth. I found the reference to Israel Orbach extremely spot on. Orbach advanced that an individual is more prone to hurt himself if he has been disconnected from his own body. Similarly, Worthy suggested that we are more susceptible to harming nature if we live in total disconnection from it.
I was also impressed by Michael Deflorian’s analysis of Worthy’s book. Michael suggested that we cannot go back in time, in the era prior disassociation. Rather, Michael argues for a re-association between people and the consequences of their lives. And this is precisely what environmental history leads us to. As Michael wrote, it is most obvious that we stand detached from the consequences of our actions, more than any generation or civilisation before us.
Finally, another scholar who criticises the destructive divide between spirit and matter is the British philosopher Mary Midgley. Midgley’s reflection brings us a lot by illuminating that the divisive mentality which tends to put disciplines into hermetic boxes cannot enable us to make sense of our environment. The world must be approached in a holistic manner. Midgley helps us to gain a sharp approach to environmental history.
I really relish re-reading my colleagues’ analyses and comments. Markus Nystrom for example wrote about his childhood’s contemplations, wondering whether other people were really subjects and not just matter. I reckon we are many to ask those metaphysical questions. Midgley criticised the idea of atomism/ reductionism which has permeated all levels of understanding and how it has reduced the importance of the larger levels of reality. Midgley counteracts Richard Dawkins for whom the only real thing is the gene. As Markus emphasises drawing on Midgley, atomistic thinking hurts our understanding of the world and ourselves.
Eventually, debunking dichotomies lead us to a refreshed way of looking at the world.
III- Perceiving the world through a different lens
Like many other scholars of the humanities, British anthropologist Tim Ingold inspires us to look at the world with fresh eyes. Tim Ingold’s work inspires us today as environmental history students to adopt a different way of looking at the world. As Nik Petek wrote we all dwell in the landscape, we cannot be disassociated from it. ‘No one floats above it and you cannot escape it’. We both shape the landscape as we dwell in the midst of it, and are shaped by it. This is, I think, one the most important points environmental history teaches us: as nature changes, so do we. We are mutually interdependent with every other species and with the environment as a whole. Thus, as Nik reminds us, phenomenology is an important discipline for environmental history. Phenomenology highlights how humans relate to the world, and how they construct the world around them.
Eventually, environmental history provides us with a post-modern and post-structuralism way of understanding History. It helps us understand colonial history, settler societies, the rise and demise of civilisations. In The Collapse of Complex Societies, American anthropologist Joseph Tainter argues that by becoming too complex, societies eventually collapse. Tainter illustrates his point with the example of the Roman empire. Obviously, Tainter’s analysis opens the debate regarding whether our current society, being too complex, is doomed to collapsing. This debate is indeed relevant in a course entitled ‘Current debates in environmental history’. Nick Hirschstein questions Tainter’s view and his pessimistic view of sustainability. According to Nick although contemporary collapses can be related to the collapse of the Roman empire for instance – which had a thirst to keep growing like modern corporations – sustainability is not about growth; it is about being responsible. Nick questions Tainter’s pessimistic view of sustainability.
The student organiser to this seminar had asked whether human nature was unethical for increasing complexity in societies, which brings dire consequences but seems unavoidable. I reckon that environmental history can provide a fresh look upon philosophical questions of this kind, and agree with Ellen Lindblom that it is impossible to talk about ‘human nature’ per se. Ellen astutely pointed out that many human societies and communities do not strive for complexity, such as hunter-gatherer societies. I also contend with Ellen that the larger the system is, the more difficult it becomes to grasp the effect of our actions. Markus N also suggested that increasing complexity is not human nature but simply a social construction. As Markus accentuated, civilisation has to do with cities, with urbanisation which itself depends on imports, in other words distancing between production and consumption. Markus wrote that centralisation brings with it the idea of separateness which allows ecological depletion, but this separateness is avoidable.
Yet again, environmental history enables us to find new ways of living. As Michael Deflorian wrote, it is possible to envision a society in which complexity stops growing. I contend with Michael for a society in which the word ‘enough’ will take more important a place.
Finally, ‘CDEH’ also enabled me to question apparently innocent words such as ‘conservation’ and ‘biodiversity’. Indeed, in the seminar “History, Conservation and Politics, the example of Australia”, it was pointed out that such words carry political connotations. Nik Petek underlined how political the concepts of conservation and protecting biodiversity are; a point raised by Libby Robins throughout the seminar.
The very idea of wilderness carries a political agenda. Hence, in Ecology and Empire, Tom Griffiths reminded us that there was a form of proto-agriculture practiced by Aboriginal Australians and that the first inhabitants of the Australian continent had much more impact on the landscape than the White settlers first assumed. This piece of information reminds us that there is not such a thing as wilderness. And definitely, ‘conservation’ and ‘biodiversity’ are White words, as Nik emphasised.
Kristina Berglund stated that one of the things she has learnt in this program is that concepts such as ‘environment’, ‘empire’ and ‘biodiversity’ shall not be taken for granted as universal. Conservation itself cannot be a universal concept. For instance, Bill Mollison one of the founders of the permaculture movement described Aboriginal Australians as models for current conservationists but surely Aboriginal Australians were not thinking about conservation when they were interacting with their environment.
Eventually, Nisa advanced that an empire is not solely a geographical entity, it is a political and philosophical construction relying on power schemes. And environmental history is such an important discipline to help us question power relationships. When we examine the history of ecology and conservation in the world, we realise that a lot of it relies on power relationships between civilisations. Indeed, environmental history teaches us as much about men than it teaches about nature.
The cycle of seminars allowed to frame theories, not just learning facts but analysing them. Even the most ‘technical’ seminar attended – From natural to cultural landscapes with Valentina Caracuta which related to her archaeological research on middle-eastern agriculture – drew analytical reactions from my colleagues. Indeed, as Miguel Nunez pointed out, the discussion mainly explored the topic of the interdisciplinary nature of the archaeological scientific practice and its relationship with social sciences. As Josefin Heed highlighted, Valentina addressed the need of social science in her work, in order to analyse the meaning of the findings. Environmental history is really about making sense of facts, as testified by Ghide Habtetsion and Lauri Jokinen who discussed whether landscape is the upshot of cultural practices or vice versa. Hence, the seminars attended revealed that environmental history is a discipline of questioning, in which mere facts cannot stand still.
This cycle of seminars has enabled me to understand the place of environmental history in today’s world. The seminars helped me to question the current economic system on which the world relies, capitalism and the unequal exchange which lies behind the commodities market. I particularly appreciated the analyses of Jason Moore and Alf Hornborg on the current economic system.
The cycle of seminars also helped me to understand that the world cannot be described in black and white terms. Dichotomies must be swatted away. Science cannot be set apart from the humanities. Wilderness cannot be distinguished from humans.
Environmental history helps me to look at the world differently and to question every concept. Conservation, empire, power, biodiversity, complexity, sustainability, science… All those concepts have been dissected through those seminars.
It has been such a great joy to re-read my colleagues’ reflections for the purpose of this exercise. Everyone brought something compelling and alluring to the rest of this group. I am very grateful I have been able to partake in this program of global environmental history and will continue to crave more readings and more seminars in environmental history; maybe more fact-oriented because I am becoming increasingly curious about the scientific aspect of environmental history. Wait, am I still enmeshed in dichotomist thinking?!January 4, 2016 at 17:22 #17619
My Examination Essay
Ghide Habtetsion GebremichaelJanuary 4, 2016 at 21:06 #17620
Vincenza Ferrara´s Final Examination Assignment:
Thank you indeed!January 5, 2016 at 01:19 #17624
My final examination: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5DNLR1S1FTNUTdhOWZmc3poWWs/view?usp=sharingJanuary 5, 2016 at 11:51 #17626
Henrik SParticipantJanuary 5, 2016 at 15:06 #17628
A. LIST OF SEMINARS I HAVE ATTENDED
1. Governance of the artic:
In this seminar I was interested in the origins and in the political effects around the resilience concept. The first time as I heard about this concept was as a psychological ability which all the persons have in order to restore themselves after living traumatic experiences. Such as an example, those people who have lived in places where war has happened can found new ways to survive after the warfare risks have passed.
In the interim report from 2012 about resilience in the arctic, is informed and defined the resilience from ecosystems as those capacities of the biological or environment systems that can restore old lost states of environmental functions. But, how the ecosystems can restore themselves if the risk which exists over their natural functions does not disappear? This question guided my personal reflections.
We discussed about China as claimer of the arctic for its managing, exploitation and free use. This claiming could be assessed from a global perspective, in the sense that China, with their more than one billion of inhabitants, needs for their future generations the arctic natural resources. If we think globally around the idea that the arctic is a human patrimony, one of the natural consequences is that Chinese peoples, being part of humankind, have rights over managing the Arctic. In what way and based on what circumstances China could be manage the Arctic is a big question, if we take in account the big capacity from chinese peoples to put limits on their behaviors. The restrictions over their biological functions as their reproductive capacity, and the consequent outcome in the Chinese families from today, are a clear example about the effectiveness of the Chinese peoples. What other big people has could put limits to their reproductive expansion through politic decisions? No one as the Chinese appears today as the more awareness about the impact over the environment that the human production and consumption have and, and it´s the reason for the economic punishment to those families which have more than one child or two children.
As we have seen, at least in the strongest economies of the world, the conflict between economic principles and ecological principles is clear, indeed in the managing over the Arctic. I think that it´s the point that we can assessed deeply.
2. River history
In this seminar my reflections were about the use of scientific methodologies for the reconstruction of the history. As we discussed, a very important issue in the making of written history is about the narrative styles which are used as well the methodologies to reveal new information. On one hand, we talking 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.
To do an explanation regarding to the differences between narrative and research methodologies used in academic or literary works is important for me. 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 discovering new information or understanding it in a new way. Such for example, in the case of the riverscape reconstructions through GIS technology, after the analysis of historical information, is possible understand how the river changed across time in a specific place. But after the coming of the comprehension social scientific 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”.
As I argued in the seminar, in many cases, 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 in my practice as lawyer, I could give social sense to the scientific narratives about the history of one river.
3. From natural to cultural landscapes
The archaeological methodologies explained in the conference gives me more scientific elements to comprehend the importance of the excavations of land, picking up fossils, analysis of charcoal and pollen, and about the designs of diagdiagrams which help to represent in long term dure, issues such as the crops. Its relationship with nomadic and sedentary practices have been underlined in many environmental histories but without the specific detail of the methodologies drawn today by Valentina Caracuta.
Another one interest point touched in the discussion was about the interdisciplinary of the archaeological scientific practice, in his partner relation with the social sciences, for example. The mention about the written documents which could be base of explication for certain events partially understood by the natural sciences and his technologies of investigation, was a kind of inspiration for carrying on my thesis work. It because, telling social stories could be a lamp for answering questions about the human motivations in the impact of his environment.
About the domestication of crops in the long term duree and the spread of anatomical modern humans out of Africa, it is wonderful know that the nathufian known about the value of crops in the process of human surviving. As we experimented in the debate, the archeological efforts to give data which sustains theories about the processes of development of the homo sapiens have his scopes and limits. There the social sciences research contributes by telling the social dynamics between human groups.
4. Mentorship in Global Environmental Study. Study case.
I think that the shared experiences which we had had in the running of the mentorship with undergraduate students, were useful for the enrichment in the scope of the global environmental history, not only by the great interest that they showed on environmental themes as well as their focus on going deeply in the history and picking up relevant data in the comprehension of the past phenomena.
Often, I was maintained myself marveled with the constancy that students manifested toward themes that I have considered as “old fashion”, for instance themes like the encounter between American and European worlds in the XV century, as well as the massive dying which occurred in Euro-Asia during XIV century well known as “black death” pandemics.
The two groups which studied diseases had two divergent focuses. One of them I think, wanted to know with details, from a narrative approach, about what happened during massive dying, and the other was so interested in reveal the mechanisms used to challenge those pandemics by sanitary measures as for example the quarantines or healthy belts.
From my own approach, I interpreted it as two necessary steps in the processes of investigation, the first one, I will say, the theory requirement, and the second, the practice. Or in other words, if you are interested in the history, first your efforts try to know what happened and after, they look for a comprehension about the mechanisms which gave impulse to the history wheel. The experience of sharing common interests around a same discipline between persons with differentiated levels of “expertise”, made in my mind a micro-revolution by knowing that the historic concern goes beyond of naïve interests. I mean that I felt myself as part of a community, at least as part of an academic community.
5. PAST SOLUTIONS FOR FUTURE TRANSITIONS
In this lecture and seminar, I began to use the read history in order to improve my comprehension of my present. The questions that I had had in my mind were: ¿How the economical modes of production in the capitalist system could be llinked with massive starvation and sudden changes in the ecosystems producing catastrophes such as flooding in cultivated areas and droughts? What can we learn from past environmental events in order to improve our understanding around current concerns such as the ENSO (El niño southern oscilation) and the climate change? In what way can we associate environmental phenomena such as droughts and flooding with the consumption and production habits from postindustrial societies?
I selected the next methodology to answer last questions: By the annals method we can improve our understanding about environmental history taking in consideration the human events registered in the past and analyze them from current social approaches. In this way, in the case about the history of the ENSO, we can learn about the great famines in the late nineteenth century in comparison with the industrial cultivations of sugar in the southeast Asiatic coasts, made by the British Empire. Because of today we count with better comprehension about the effects on the environment by the industrialization, we can build relevant theories based on historical facts which reveal new causes of the human famines in the late modernity.
Between 30 and 60 millions of persons passed away in the last third of the nineteenth century in the tropical areas from China, India and Brazil because of chronic diseases caused by a continued famine. Likewise, the British Empire managed in the same age the sugar cultivations in the southeast Asiatic, and the mayor part of the produced food was imported to Europe. With certain data and through testimonies from the late XIX century, Make Davis sustains the theory about the victorian holocausts, which mean that those massive starvation was cause directly by the victorian empire. Also, the illustrations and photography included in the book, from this epoch, are awesome and awful, helping to reveal and measure one of the most incomprehensible events in the late modernity. At the same time, this book divulges the traditional Chinese modes in order to avoid the famine effects on the human being, based on strict systems to control the prices of the rice and mechanisms to protect to the peasants which worked the land.
As we seen, at least in the late XIX century the starvation occurred in India had his correlate in the economic exploitation of cotton cultivations by the British Empire. Meanwhile in the same age, the effects on the crops produced by the El Niño Southern Oscilation in China were controlled by a strict economic policy. This panorama helps also to understand current effects that savage capitalism have on communities that base its mode of economy in the huntering, gathering and agriculture.
6. ACTORS NETWORKS AN RESILIENCE IN URBAN LANDSCAPES
This reflection mentioned any of the methodologies used by Henrik Ernston et al (2008) in his doctoral dissertation called Actors, Networks and Resilience in Urban Landscapes, with special focus on the paper Weaving protecting stories: connective practices to articulate holistic values in Stockholm National Urban Park. The actor-network theory, the social movement theory and the social-network analyses are skills used by the author to explain a successful experience in the social shaping of ecological values which finally were recognized by the National Urban Park Law in 1995 creating the Stockholm National Park.
According with H. Ernston through linking green areas and the mobilization of social actors was built a public recognition of the social capital of the artifacts produced by activists, artists and Scientifics such as maps, paintings and reports which supported the final approbation of the above mentioned law in the Swedish Parliament. Likewise, the concepts built by the core and periphery social actors regarding to the ecological, historical and national values of the Park were legal basis for the municipal authorities in the management of this protected area.
The protective story as the author called to this social process began because in 1991 an agreement between the Swedish government and major investors was signed for the construction of infrastructure in locations of the current Park. As response, 22 environmental defenders organizations combined their efforts in The Alliance of the Eco-park to lobbied policy-makers and by this way preventing the exploitation of the place. The keen behaviors of social actors, and deciding factors to influence the values incorporated in the National Urban Park Law, included as the author points out the access to social arenas, the artifacts linked, their social networks position and capabilities of activists. (p. 109)
A reflection and questions from the Global South.
A strong democracy with participative mechanisms open to the public, the existence of a scientific an academic tradition, a culture of dialogue and no confrontation and the high respect to the liberty of association would seem as the values to support successes experiences of social movement in the governance of the social commons. This social process of constitution of a National Park in Sweden where the people’s voice and knowledge is valued rather than the economic values of competition and urban growing, it is a great example about the effectiveness of the democracy.
Despite of this successful experience, it is necessary to answer other questions. Who are the final users of the Stockholm National Park? Who of them has free access to the park in which parts of the year? Who has limited rights in the enjoying of the park because their lacks of social, economic or symbolic capital? Are the social actors that shaped the National Urban Park Swedish Law part of elite?
7.DONALD WOSTER ON ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY
The recognized historian Donald Worster illustrates the damage size of the Dust Bowl, an environmental disaster occurred in southern States from U.S.A on the 1930’s. In Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas the over-cultivation of lands was the precondition to the massive soil desertification caused by storm winds. Bad economic effects for the inhabitants, farmers and regional governments were bigger than those produced by the Big Depression in 1929. This disaster caused respiration illness to a lot of people because the particles which flew through the air. The cause of these phenomena was the land overexploitation and for this, it has been identified as those problems which may be analyzed throughout the dilemma of the commons treated by Ostrom.
The dilemma identified by Ostrom, is that if access to common-pool resources is limited it excludes people from their free use, and if the access is not limited, the free enjoyment of people causes resource depletion. According to the school of collective action-which usually has studied the problem-the resolution of this dilemma is economic and has been shown by the successful experiences of the institutions that have been able to manage common-pool resources, by creating rules that have encouraged the proper use of these goods and punished their embezzlement. On the other hand, according to the entitlement scholars, the dilemma is moral and must be decided taking into account the inability of poor and vvulnerable groups to take advantage of the common-pool resources. Therefore, institutional solutions to this dilemma are sometimes contradictory to the contexts of socio-economic needs of the communities.
From a biological approach, the land have an self-system to cure himself and the only requirement to do it depend on strictly from the human will. When comes the day in that pre modern production and consumption, from indigenous and forestry societies, becomes again in the global rule, that day we will be in front of a new society way, in which the biodiversity and the respect for bioma are the environmental values.
8. Reviews in Global Environmental History
B. Seminars I have led: GOVERNANCE OF THE ARTIC
C. COMPLEMENTARY TASKS
1. Nature, narrative and environmental history.
2. Integrated history of people on earth.January 5, 2016 at 20:28 #17631
FannyParticipantJanuary 6, 2016 at 11:20 #17632
Current Debates Course
The 10 seminars I have attended:
– World Systems, History and Ecology
– Policy in the Age of the Climate Crises (Global utmaning)
– Nature, Narrative and Environmental History
– Science, Society and Power
– Will attend the seminar in the 27th of Jan 2015
Seminars with my complimentary tasks:
– Actors, Networks and Resilience in Urban Landscapes
– Governance and the Arctic
– Integrated History of People on Earth
– River History
– The Age of Ecology
Seminar I have held:
– World Systems, History and Ecology
Diary of the reflections of the seminars:
– World Systems, History and Ecology
According to Moore, speakers of the Anthropocene are usually people who speak much but act little. What I would have liked to hear was in what way Moore acted on the climate change, and not only spoke of it? It seemed he mostly focused on a new way of defining capitalism and not how this in practice can change climate change, which I consider people speaking of the Antrhopocene give suggestions to (less carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere for example). I refrained from asking him this since I did not think I could ask it in a good way just then. Why I consider this to be important, is that all of us in the class discussed the different concepts without getting to a solution. Perhaps I was to focused on how this might help in the environmental issues, like a quick answer, than really understand how Moore tried to explain the role of captalism in envrionmental problems.
– Nature, Narrative and Environmental History
I brought up one aspect of boredom which somewhat contradicts Cronon, and that is that boredom can be considered a skill. I do not mean always, toward most things, but truly it is a valuable skill nonetheless. It is through boredom that I am taught not to do certain things, while I gain more energy to pursue the passions of my heart. This is one important aspect, it is not good for us to be too divided, but instead single-minded on the work we have before us. However, as we discussed, there will always be obstacles of boredom on the way of getting to our goals and this is where boredom is to be overcome as mentioned earlier. But over all, I believe in today´s society when we are expected to be updated all the time, to follow along in everything, to get bored with things like Facebook can be beneficial for thus can we use our time on more important things. To shut things out can be a skill that we do not want to live without.
– Governance and the Arctic
What societies do in a resilience framework is that they can for example share available food and also that they know alternative ways of getting the food and water that they need. To build in resilience in political decisions concerning food security is one of the authors´ suggestion. I truly think that resilience in this context is of high importance. I find it hard in what other way the Arctic can reach food security effectively. But it all requires that the facts of resilience concerning food- and water security become a reality. I believe the difficult part will be to actually implement the knowledge of resilience fully, since it needs to influence politics to a high degree and perhaps not all in power will agree on the solutions and thereby not all of the changes will come to pass. However to contiually strive thereafter is of course what is needed in order to see a further implementation of the resilience.
– Integrated History of People on Earth
Centennial-scale dynamics has to do with our relationship to nature and how we have impacted nature tracing 1000 years back. My thesis is mostly centered around present time, at the most tracing back to the use of chemistry for good and bad back in the 1400s. This is merely in my background section though. When it comes to chemistry and its effect on nature, I am not sure of how much we know 1000 years back. What we do know is that it was not until the recent app. hundred years that artificial chemicals have been synthezised, which the world has never seen before. Since it is foreign to nature, there is no doubt that it will have somewhat negative effects on it, because it is not made for it basically. The only thing I believe we can learn 1000 years back is that some harmful elements may have killed people (e.g. arsenic), wildlife and also brought its harm to nature. However, this is not in my thesis. If it was going to be in the Dahlman workshop, this would be a good aspect to investigate further.
– River History
One of my fellow students wrote the following about the articles:
”I must admit that I found the reading of the articles almost unbearably boring. My impression was that the authors just stacked up historical facts without putting them in a context or creating a comprehensible narrative. Should not all this information be connected to some socioeconomic factors, ecological consequences or a zoomed out perspective on Austrias role in global trade – in order to justify itself as History?”
I agree that stacking up information bit by bit can be perceived as boring and may not serve its purpose since the relevance of the context is left out. Since I did not attend the seminar, I am not sure if Winiwarter answered why the context is left out. I come from a background of natural sciences, but has now in my Master come into being an environmental historian. I am new to the concept of an actual ”historian” and how history should be written. What I can recall from a course in what history is in the beginning of the programme, is that one has to truly specify what the study concerns and what it does not look into. To be specific is the key I believe. In this, there is always a context. Not a pile of facts. For what does a pile of facts really mean? Can it lead forward a correct understanding of a situation, and what to do about it? History, what I understand, is always placed in a context. What, when, who, where things happened. And as my fellow student put it: what consequences were made. I think it would be interesting to ask Winiwarter myself what has come out of the articles. Maybe it has served a purpose despite, I should not say that it may have not.
– The Age of Ecology
As I dwell on environmentalism, I realize I can not solve the world problem concerning it. I can only live one day at a time, doing what I´m doing. The question I have is, how well can I act locally? There are ways in which we can affect climate change etcetera, for example by buying organic foods. Another is to separate at source when it comes to household waste. One of my favorite topics is on toxicology. Here we can learn as individuals to buy containers for food made of glass instead of plastics, use coconut oil on our bodies instead of lotions made of chemicals. We could also try to engage politically and try to affect desicions to a more environmentally friendly direction. However. If we then live on as most people and fly to Thailand for vacation, have we not possibly undone all the ”good” choices for the environment by flying the airplane?
So, somehow I believe that trying to live environmentally friendly, is very hard. We can as individuals only add small bits to the picture. I find it very complicated. I more believe in top down politics concerning this, where bigger decisions are made in global institutions and organizations, so that the decisions can benefit on larger scales and help more people to make good choices. For example, that fuel for the airplane was cleaner somehow.
My conclusion on the course
There are many issues in today´s society. If one goes as close as to watching the news, terrible things happen every single day. Of course, even hardships at work, in relationships or at home can also affect any individual. These are sad things however, which have occured at all times. Affecting all society throughout time. If one instead looks at the current climate change and its issues, this has not occured to the vast extent than has it today. This is my reflection on the Current Debates course.
First of all, I found the course interesting. It highlighted different aspects of the climate debate today and somewhat what we can do about it. There are issues we can address today, and some which may be out of our reach to actually change for the better in the long term. My overall impression of the course is to try change our use of resources of different kinds, money and nature, in order to leave a better world to our descendence. The increasing problem started in the 1800 which the Industrial Revolution, unto the Silent Spring in the 1960s. The Revolution had to do with coal and the usage of coal, which has increased the climate change a lot. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, wrote on the contemporary usage of pesticides and other toxins which were very damaging and sometimes deadly to nature and wild life. Joahcim Radkau, describes the origins of environmentalism and also mentions Carson.
Today, the situtation is more severe, although we have banned some pesticides etcetera used in the 1960s. Coal is still being used as enery resource in electricity world wide. We have also increased environmental toxins of different kinds, by producing large amounts of them used in plastics, fabrics, electronics and much more. We are depleting the ozone layer, causing imbalances of the temperature – such as warmer over all temperature – and increasing desease among animals and damaging vegetation due to toxins. Some experts consider us to think long term, in contrast to today´s thinking of short term thinking among most people. It is my conclusion that most of the author´s we came in contact with during this course thought this way. Not only did they think long term, but also that we actually can do something about this crisis.
We have caused it, and therefore there are habits we can change. We can change our view on nature and to use it with care. To be subordinate nature and let it teach us how much we are depended upon it. If we find alternative energy sources, this would also be a step in the right direction. Yet, I did not read on how to combat the use of toxic sustances globally. Maybe it was merely not covered in the course, or not on the seminars I attended. I have however read other literature on the subject, and they suggest limitations and prohibition foremost should be be done on a more global level, such as the EU. Also, they give suggestion on what one can do on a personal level, as to how to avoid toxicity at home.
About thinking long term, and how to change the climate change. I once watched a documentary on television about six people who were pioneers in the environmental movement around the 1970s. They truly thought for change and that the government so to speak would wake up and take action. We could make a complete reverse, if only we acted now, was their message. They documentary said that only a few people thought such long term as these six people. They thought up unto six generations forward. I believe this is true, and I do admire them for taking action, since much of today´s environmental revolution is originated in their work. But, I do wonder if are all meant to think six generations forward.
To be honest, should we all think long term, and how easy is that? Consider a family of seven. The parents work fulltime to make food on the table, and rest of the time is used for the children, spending time with family, going for walks, and once in a while making a longer trip to relatives 5 hours away. The hours basically goes away quickly every week. They do not have time to be involved in anything political, nor money to buy organic. To say the least, they really do not care to be environmentally friendly, for there is too much hassel to even start going about it. And how much difference would it make? If their children is happy is all that matters to them, and if they could not see a direct connection to their action environmentally wise and the mental or physical state of their children, could they care less? Even if they wanted to care or do care is it to difficult to adjust to environmental friendly choices.
Here I believe companies and the society comes into play. If there are laws on the political level, people do not have to choose so much and make inconveinient changes in their lives, but can simply choose environmental friendly choices simply because there are almost no other choices to make, let us say in a store. The company has already made the changes for them. Of course, changes can be difficult for companies to make as well, but are they pushed from politicans, are they more motivated to make that change. Thus, for the mom and dad with five children, the best move they can make environmentally is to vote for politians who will put the right questions forward in this discussion.
To be frank, however, I doubt we can actually combat climate change. We can do all that we can yes, and it will make a difference, but I still believe it will not suffice. We have put ourselves in a horrendous mess. I think we do not know how bad we have actually treated the Earth. We have introduced foreign substances (synthezised) which we do not know the long term effect of. I believe one of the greatest dilemmas is to get everyone to cooperate. (Even if we could, would we be able to undo the damage we have done?)
Why do I believe the greatest dilemma to combat climate change is to get everyone to cooperate? To me it seems like the environmentalists think that only if the message get out to everyone, do everyone or most people want to join and combat climate change. For the good-hearted ones, I believe they will, and therefore I am all for the environmental movement, for we do have a responsibility to steward nature and wild life. But I also believe that there will be many people, no matter how much they know, will not care at all. And others, who will outright work against it.
Why people who do not care at all and the ones who will work against it will do it for mostly two reasons in my opinion: selfishness and money. It is craving things for oneself, not caring about the consequences of others. I believe that no matter how much one tries to convince them, they will not change, period. So, I consider the environmental movement should grow and do even more good works, while I believe they should also understand their limits: they will possibly not change the whole world, and people will also work against them. But yet I would say, do not give up in changing the world for the better! For you never know who else will join the movement and how much change can be done.February 18, 2016 at 07:38 #17642
Finally, my final paper:
Current Debates VT16
Final Examination Paper
In this final examination paper for the course Current Debates in Environmental History I will first present a list of all the seminars where I have been present, and in that list I will specify the seminars that I have been a part of leading. This list will be followed by a diary of varying reflections on content of the seminars, assigned literature and discussions with classmates during the seminars and afterwards on the discussion forum.
List of Seminars Attended
I have attended the following seminars:
1. Tue 12 Jan: Finale and new beginning
2. Fri 13 Feb: Donald Worster on Environmental History
3. Tue 5 March: River History
4. Tue 10 March: Integrated History for People on Earth
5. Tue 24 March: Urban ecology workshop (Leading)
6. Tue 21 April: Pre-opposition on Ma theses
7. Tue 5 May: Past solutions for future transitions
8. Mon 25 May: Actors, networks and resilience in urban landscapes
9. Tue 22 sept cont. Past solutions for future transitions working with undergraduate education
10. Tue 6 oct: Climate history today
11. Mon 26 Oct. From natural to cultural landscapes
12. Wed 28 Oct Mind & Nature excursion (Leading)
13. Wed 11 Nov: Interpreting Landscapes
14. Tue 17 Nov: Entanglement
15. Tue 17 Nov: Nature, narrative and Environmental History (Leading)
During the day we first had an introduction to the Current Debates course, and this event was also my entrance to the program. Already from this beginning I saw that this course was very different from any course that I had taken during my undergraduate studies. I was impressed by the responsibility that us the students were given and together with the excitement of beginning studies in a new program this was very motivating. In the afternoon some of the second year students presented their thesis projects, which was first of all a great opportunity to meet them as we didn’t share any courses together, and secondly this served to motivate me even further regarding my own studies. Having to write reflections on what the second year students had presented of their thesis projects was also helpful as it forced us to get to know their work, which would in turn help us in forming ideas for our own thesis projects. What I took as most important from this day was the motivation to start working on the program and especially my thesis. I think it was also very good to focus on the thesis work of the second year students even if all of us didn’t have much ideas for our own theses. This is because I see the master’s thesis as perhaps the most important part of doing a master’s programme and since the programme length, as ours, is usually not more than 2 years it is crucial for the students to get into the mindset of thesis work as soon as possible.
13 February Donald Worster on Environmental History
On this day we had a very interesting talk by professor Donald Worster followed by a lively discussion. It was nice to see that the intimate small group setting helped us overcome and forget the intimidation of discussing with a scholar of such experience and merits as professor Worster. One important topic we discussed was agriculture, and professor Worster was especially promoting the work of certain researchers in the U.S. The sort of agriculture that Worster was mentioning as I understand it, an agriculture mimicking nature, would in one sense be no more natural than current agricultural systems. In the sense that the systems would be adjusted by humans for food production and other purposes defined by humans, they would be similar to current systems. Since most human societies or cultures have lost the ability to live in a natural system while minimally adjusting the system, and we might not even desire to regain that ability, the kind of agriculture Worster is presenting seems like a plausible option. Still, if we are trying to solve this 10 000 year old problem with agriculture in terms of its sustainability, I do not think it is only a technical matter. These new agricultural systems that mimic nature surely require a wider transformation of societies to go along with them, if we desire sustainable cultures with sustainable agriculture as a part of them. Since food is so important for humans, it seems fitting that efforts in change towards more sustainable cultures would hold production of food as a central issue.
This seminar was focused on two articles on research about the section of the Danube river in Vienna. This research project to me serves as an example of environmental history’s ability to make use of a very broad spectrum of disciplines within both social and natural sciences. I do not have experience of studying natural sciences on the university level, but my impression would be that natural sciences are not necessarily expected to connect phenomena that they research to social constructs, and they are not expected to theorise on the social meanings of the phenomena they study or their findings. What is expected of environmental history then? Does a research effort in environmental history always have to include theorising on the social meanings of the findings, or could the maps produced in the Viennese Danube research project already be environmental history? It would seem to me at least that we would be wasting the effort of this research if nobody did try to theorise at least partly based on those maps. I would say that the maps are already important research in environmental history, but their importance is perhaps only realised through enabling us to theorise based on the data that these maps contain.
10 March IHOPE
As the reflection on this seminar we presented on the discussion forum our ideas for research that could be part of the IHOPE project. The idea I am proposing is based on my current thesis project, the feedback I got from presenting that during the seminar, and my reflections on the assigned literature. I proposed a seminar bringing together research efforts that would focus on the history of the Mono, a river that originates in Togo and flows down to South Western Benin. The purpose of the workshop would be to compile and analyse evidence of change in the socio-ecological systems surrounding the river. Making this thought experiment of a thorough multidisciplinary research project focusing on the Mono river really made me appreciate the magnitude of the tasks proposed by the IHOPE project. I also understand more that in order to create knowledge that would be less fractional than what we are used to dealing with, this seems very necessary. Also, I would see that this sort of structure of research projects would really be using our capabilities efficiently by bringing researchers from many disciplines together to work around a shared focus.
24 March Urban Ecology Workshop
This seminar was led by me and Ghide, and it was partly successful, but in some sense I would see that we failed in what we were trying to achieve. We decided to arrange the workshop as a mostly outdoors activity where we would start at the 4H farm at the outskirts of the city and then walk to the city centre while observing our surroundings and discussing. One idea regarding the pedagogy was that walking a longer distance through changing environment while discussing could inspire some different kind of insights than sitting in a room and talking. I was quite happy with how the first part of the workshop turned out, and the discussion at the 4H farm was already fruitful. However, before the workshop we were thinking that the most interesting discussion would be after our two groups had walked through the city and came together to share reflections, and this part was missed because most people continued home before gathering for a final discussion. We did share reflections on the course discussion forum afterwards, but I feel that a face to face discussion would have been more fruitful.
The walk from the 4H farm to the city centre certainly helped me to reflect on the readings we had done for the day. I was reflecting on what kind of non human life is accepted in these different urban commons, and I feel like the city is not seen as a place for any animals bigger than hares, and maybe even they are not accepted. I know that at least in Finland they hunt hares in the city in order to curb the population. The walk form the city’s outskirts towards it centre showed me how the urban space became more crammed, leaving less space for commons, and how towards the centre most animals would be seen as out of place. Still, I am reminded of how Metzger points out that non human life is everywhere, and even our human bodies could be seen as largely consisting of non human life. Even in the most dense urban concentration there is an abundance of non human life, although we might not see it. I don’t mean only birds, rodents, insects and other animals, but all the bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microscopic life that is all around us and that we depend on as well as are threatened by.
21 April Pre-opposition of Ma Theses
On this day we were each giving comments on one second year students thesis as they were at that moment. To me this was a very interesting exercise as I was already familiar with some of the thesis projects from our first current debates event. It was a good insight into the process of thesis work to see how the ideas and approaches of the second year students had changed and developed. It was also encouraging to see that despite their expressed insecurity, the ideas of the students had become more refined, coherent and clearly expressed. I was giving comments on the thesis of Markus and it was a pleasure since I found both the topic and his approach very interesting. By reading the thesis, especially the theory and methodology sections I learnt a great deal on literary theory, discourse analysis and related methods. This area of research was not very familiar to me before, so the fact that I felt informed about it after reading the work of Markus should say something about his ability to explain the theory and methods he was dealing with. Furthermore, hearing from Markus and the other second year students that they appreciated our comments and even found them useful for their work was very motivating to me. I would say this event helped uphold and reinforce a sense of togetherness, that despite differences in experience and academic merits we can discuss and share comments and ideas freely and feel respected for what we give. This has been one of the aspects of the programme and the course that I have appreciated the most, and events such as the pre-opposition have helped to create this sense of respect and appreciation within the course, the programme and even the whole department.
22 September Cont. Past Solutions for Future Transitions, Working with Undergraduate Education
I think that it was a very good idea to have us from the master’s programme to meet the students of the undergraduate course. I am not sure how much the students would feel they benefited from that day, but I would say that I got good experiences. I found that first as the groups described me their topics and ideas so far, I had to be very careful of not putting out too much of my own ideas when I gave recommendations on how they could continue developing theirs. I feel that I should have stated more specifically to every group that they should also be critical about what I am saying, but I think that in the end they followed their own ideas, perhaps inspired partly by what I had to say.
Towards the end of the day I found that my comments had changed from discussing the content of their projects to discussing research questions. More specifically I was telling them to try to formulate a research question already now in the beginning of the work, and then adapting or changing that question if and when they would need to do so as the work progresses. I was also telling them to consider how they will motivate their choice of angle to approach the given topics so to say. I feel that this latter approach might have been more useful to the students since it was more about raising questions than trying to give any kind of answer to what they should look into or how they might structure their work.
I think this way to arrange the mentoring was good as it didn’t demand too much from us, but still created contact between the undergraduate students and us. However, I felt at least myself that I was expected, by myself and others, to be in some sort of an expert role, and in some ways that makes sense, but it could be good to think of ways to help close the socially constructed gap between master’s and undergraduate students, although just meeting in this way is already a good start. I would connect some of my experiences from this event with those from events with second year students during our first year in the programme. This is because I felt that this event contributed to a similar bridging of gaps between what could be seen as different levels of the academia, although the gap in this case was arguably larger than between us and the second year students in the previous events.
26 October From Natural to cultural Landscapes
How this event turned out was especially interesting to me because I would consider it as one of the best examples of the atmosphere of mutual respect and sharing of ideas. First we had a lecture where doctor Valentina Caracuta presented some of her latest work. During this part I would see the setting as an experienced researcher and academic presenting to students and her peers, the researchers from our department who were also present. I would see this as a more traditional setting of students listening and perhaps posing a few questions. When the very informative, and easily approachable, as in for us who have no training in archaeology, talk by doctor Caracuta was finished we continued to the staff break room with her and some of the researchers from the department. The discussion that followed was an exceedingly pleasant experience, where everyone from master student to professor seemed free to express ideas and experiences. I felt that we were also making good use of our differences in our academic and other backgrounds. What was especially interesting to me was the discussion on domestication, about how to define a species as domesticated, about the process of domestication, and what might be seen to separate and connect what we define as domesticated and wild species.
Tue 17 Nov Nature, Narrative and Environmental History
I was leading this seminar together with Wenzel, and the preparatory material inspired a very lively discussion where I found the most interesting content centred around the differences of approaches in what are often referred to as natural and social sciences. I feel that this discussion has been a recurring one throughout the programme and it is quite telling of the challenges and opportunities presented by the way the program is set up. My university studies have been in disciplines that are quite firmly grounded in the social sciences, but this master programme has really given me an opportunity to interact with students whose backgrounds are in the so called hard sciences. This is what was one important part of the discussion in the seminar, as one of us who had previous education in the natural sciences shared her experience of what I would summarize as learning to understand and appreciate different perspectives on knowledge production. On my part I would say that this programme has enabled me to rekindle my interest in the natural sciences and really appreciate the rigour and precision that researchers in those disciplines can achieve. However, I would say that my education in the social sciences has on the other hand given me tools to critically assess systems and cultures of knowledge production. From my experience this critical eye contains the danger of dismissing the work and professionalism of people whose views on knowledge production might seem too rigid to oneself.
About the Course
Reflecting back on the course I would see that the most important thing this course had to give was the atmosphere of mutual respect and sharing of ideas, that I have been mentioning throughout my reflections here. Also the responsibility given to students was something I appreciated, although I think that we were not, or at least myself I was not, always living up to that responsibility. The fluidity of the structure of the course and the good relations between the department staff were also something that I would see contributing to the very special experiences that I got from the events built around this course. I would say that through this course I have felt that I became a part of not only the master programme but the department of archaeology. This is thanks to the willingness and interest of the staff to participate in the events and the discussions therein. In the same way we students have been offered the possibility to take part in the seminars that the staff attend, and I wish more students become aware of this possibility and take advantage of it.
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