Research Roundup #3

Welcome to the third installment of the Research Roundup, Seeing the Woods’ quarterly listing of recent publications in the environmental humanities by staff and fellows at the Rachel Carson Center. (For the two previous installments, please click here.) 2013 has been a busy and exciting year for Carson fellows and alumni!

Please use the following links to jump between the five sections. Publications within each section are listed in alphabetic order of the author’s surname.

Academic Journal Articles
Edited Special Journal Issues
Popular Media Articles and Blog Posts
Book Chapters

Academic Journal Articles
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In this paper I will liken ecovillages to islands. Ecovillages maintain close relationships with each other but are often only marginally anchored to their respective bioregions. The picture of an isolated island is not consistent with the utopian vision of sustainable regional development. With reference to an ethnographic study of the ecovillage of Sieben Linden, I will therefore argue that the centralizing tendency of an isolated site could be profitably replaced with an attitude towards the surrounding region that builds solidarity and respects differences. The figurative representation of this ideal would be a peninsula.

  • Life-Giving Breath: Ecological Pneumatology in the Context of Fetishization
    By Sigurd Bergmann, in Ecumenical Review, Vol. 65.

No abstract available.

In the late Soviet period, environmental issues gained an unprecedented media resonance and dramatic socio-political importance. The “Ecological Revolution” took a tragic turn in the Soviet Union, against the background of high-impact industrial and natural disasters. After the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power station (Ukraine, 1986) and in a context of increased free-speech, Soviet citizens seized on new and old, covered up or forgotten environmental issues and demanded that a hesitant government put them on the political agenda. In a mixture of media revelations, mass demonstrations, and intense voluntary-sector activity, environmental issues of local, national and global significance ranked high among the main preoccupations of the Soviet population. In this introduction to a special issue of SPSR on the environmental history of the late Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia, we explore new avenues of understanding the upsurge of ecological perestroika from the 1960s to the 2010s.

Under Gorbachev, the Soviet government proved unable to face the dismantling tendencies that led ultimately to the collapse of the Soviet Union as a political regime and a territorial state—the awakening of nationalism, the loss of state legitimacy, ecological disaster, and financial crisis, to name only a few. This article reveals that the Soviet government was acutely aware of these growing risks and of the need to address them in a new way. It analyzes how emergency management developed in the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s and draws attention to the activity of the State Commission for Emergency Situations (GKChS), a little-known, but influential governmental agency created in July 1989 to respond to the disasters plaguing the country, be they industrial, natural, ecological, or social.

  • ‘Au Centre D’un Double Malheur’: Le Séisme Du 7 Décembre 1988 En Arménie et L’expulsion Des Sinistrés Azéris de Spitak
    By Marc Elie, in Revue D’études Comparatives Est-Ouest, Vol. 44.

No abstract available.

No abstract available.

No abstract available.

  • Sud-Caucase: Nouvelles Approches Politiques et Sociales (1988-2013)
    By Marc Elie and Silvia Serrano, in Revue D’études Comparatives Est-Ouest, Vol. 44.

No abstract available.

Antarctic tourism, since its beginnings in the 1960s, is an ever-growing industry and the cruise-staff of nearly every cruise to Antarctica includes at least one historian. This article discusses whether lecturing on board an Antarctic cruise is merely entertainment for the passengers and a unique chance for the respective lecturer to travel to Antarctica or if lecturing about Antarctica in the specific surrounding should be considered as an integral element of research about Antarctic history as well as the history of the Southern Oceans. Based on personal experience, the author argues that lecturing on board an Antarctic cruise is an important element of Antarctic historical research as there is no permanent or native population and thus this might be the only way to bring the results of analytical historical research via an audience that cares about Antarctica into the larger societal discussion.

In this article drainage in landscapes with a surplus of water will be in focus. A water system perspective will be applied to ditching. Upstream–downstream relations—whether small, as in this article, or comprehensive—cannot be disregarded when studying water systems. A central task in this article is to describe and interpret the ways these dependences have been controlled. In the article, building drainage systems is regarded as the construction of water systems that extends over, encloses and binds together ever larger areas of the water landscape. Examples from slightly more than 500 years of Swedish drainage history are used in the article. As with other activities involving water, the Swedish state has built up social institutions to regulate these activities. These codes of rules coordinating the management and build-up of drainage systems are interpreted from a water system perspective. Reading the sources and results from Swedish agrarian research in light of this new perspective and using a long time perspective, establishes the legacy of the laws on ditch digging. In the article the physical and social dependence that are built in systems of ditches are demonstrated. Simultaneously the new water systems contributed to building a hybrid landscape, as well as they created new communities of which the Swedish farmer became a part.

No abstract available.

  • Der Nationalpark Hohe Tauern: Eine Idee durch hundert Jahre
    By Patrick Kupper and Anna-Katharina Wöbse, in Naturschutz und Naturparke, Vol. 2.

No abstract available.

In this comparative environmental history, we examine the divergent trajectories of Colombia’s coastal forests since the mid-19th century. In the Pacific lowlands, natural resource extraction by a black peasantry altered the forested landscape but did not transform it completely. Left by the white, merchant elite in charge of the extractive process, this post-emancipation society maintained their territorial independence and avoided significant internal differentiation. Racial divisions, however, signaled the continuation of disparities that had their origin in slavery and colonialism. In the Caribbean, by contrast, the expansion of cattle ranching better integrated the region into the nation, but at the expense of extensive deforestation and the marginalization of what had been its relatively independent peasantry. By paying attention to the ecological and social basis of landscape appropriation and change, we suggest that environmental history can help us better understand the production of inequality in Latin America.

This paper discusses affective attachments to popular global imaginaries by examining the place of love in the popular humanitarianism associated with the 1984–85 music charity events Band Aid and Live Aid. The paper offers a materialist reading of the charity spectacles that situates them within a popular culture of sentimentality engaged in making and imagining forms of global community through social practices of exchange. It draws on the feminist scholarship on sentimental cultures and their imbrication with social reform movements and commodity capitalism to show how Band Aid can be understood as part of a popular culture of sentimental exchange, in which famine relief images, stories, tears, money and goods were passed along in affective exchanges that also involved sentimental stories and personalized commodities and capital such as wedding rings, household furniture and allowances. The circulation of feeling, concretized in the exchange of goods and money, confirmed the social fantasy of global community, imagined through the terms of intimate love and familial gift exchange. When combined with local, national and international commodity markets that allowed information, goods and images to travel among strangers, global gift giving appeared to replace geopolitical alliances and financial interests with an open, barrier-free, affective economy of love and cooperation.

Explosive volcanism resulting in stratospheric injection of sulfate aerosol is a major driver of regional to global climatic variability on interannual and longer timescales. However, much of our knowledge of the climatic impact of volcanism derives from the limited number of eruptions that have occurred in the modern period during which meteorological instrumental records are available. We present a uniquely long historical record of severe short-term cold events from Irish chronicles, 431–1649 CE, and test the association between cold event occurrence and explosive volcanism. Thirty eight (79%) of 48 volcanic events identified in the sulfate deposition record of the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 ice-core correspond to 37 (54%) of 69 cold events in this 1219 year period. We show this association to be statistically significant at the 99.7% confidence level, revealing both the consistency of response to explosive volcanism for Ireland’s climatically sensitive Northeast Atlantic location and the large proportional contribution of volcanism to historic cold event frequencies here. Our results expose, moreover, the extent to which volcanism has impacted winter-season climate for the region, and can help to further resolve the complex spatial patterns of Northern Hemisphere winter-season cooling versus warming after major eruptions.

Aims. Miyake et al. (2012, Nature, 486, 240, henceforth M12) recently reported, based on 14C data, an extreme cosmic event in about AD775. Using a simple model, M12 claimed that the event was too strong to be caused by a solar flare within the standard theory. This implied a new paradigm of either an impossibly strong solar flare or a very strong cosmic ray event of unknown origin that occurred around AD775. However, as we show, the strength of the event was significantly overestimated by M12. Several subsequent works have attempted to find a possible exotic source for such an event, including a giant cometary impact upon the Sun or a gamma-ray burst, but they are all based on incorrect estimates by M12. We revisit this event with analysis of new datasets and consistent theoretical modelling.

Methods. We verified the experimental result for the AD775 cosmic ray event using independent datasets including 10Be series and newly measured 14C annual data. We surveyed available historical chronicles for astronomical observations for the period around the AD770s to identify potential sightings of aurorae borealis and supernovae. We interpreted the 14C measurements using an appropriate carbon cycle model.

Results. We show that: (1) The reality of the AD775 event is confirmed by new measurements of 14C in German oak; (2) by using an inappropriate carbon cycle model, M12 strongly overestimated the event’s strength; (3) the revised magnitude of the event (the global 14C production Q = (1.1 − 1.5) × 108 atoms/cm2) is consistent with different independent datasets (14C, 10Be, 36Cl) and can be associated with a strong, but not inexplicably strong, solar energetic particle event (or a sequence of events), and provides the first definite evidence for an event of this magnitude (the fluence >30 MeV was about 4.5 × 1010 cm-2) in multiple datasets; (4) this interpretation is in agreement with increased auroral activity identified in historical chronicles.

Conclusions. The results point to the likely solar origin of the event, which is now identified as the greatest solar event on a multi-millennial time scale, placing a strong observational constraint on the theory of explosive energy releases on the Sun and cool stars.

No abstract available.

No abstract available.

Human activities now play a major, integral and ever-increasing role in the functioning of the Earth System. This fact lies at the heart of the notion of the Anthropocene. Documenting, understanding and responding to the present and future challenges posed by the recent, dramatic changes in the relationship between humans and their environment thus becomes an imperative for human society. This editorial presents the rationale for engaging with the Anthropocene across a wide range of disciplines from engineering and environmental science to the social sciences and humanities. This essentially transdisciplinary engagement requires the establishment of a new journal, The Anthropocene Review, the scope of which is outlined in this editorial.

  • Radkau on the Americas
    By J. R. McNeill, in Social Science History, Vol. 37.

In his book Nature and Power Joachim Radkau seeks to provide a broad vision of environmental history that is not unduly influenced by American perspectives but does justice to the experience of the “Old World.” Given this motive behind his work, how does Radkau deal with the American hemisphere? Examination of the relevant sections of his book shows that Radkau is drawn toward areas of environmental history with scholarly debate, takes conventional positions for the most part on those debates, and follows the literature in emphasizing the United States over the rest of the Americas.

  • Envisioning an Ecological Atlantic, 1500-1850
    By J. R. McNeill, in Nova Acta Leopoldina, Vol. 114.

In his article about the ecology of the Atlantic world, John McNeill demonstrates that the epoch from Columbus’s arrival in the New World to the mid-nineteenth century was characterised by climate change (Little Ice Age, drought), the plantation system, and the ecological exchange of flora and fauna. McNeill uses the term “Neo-Africa” for those regions with a high proportion of African slaves (particularly Brazil and the Caribbean). The concept of sustainability was entirely alien to the plantation economy of North and South America, where a parallel and extreme exploitation of people (African slaves) and land took place, motivated by economic interests.

Historians often study the history of conservation within the confines of national borders, concentrating on the bureaucratic and political manifestations of policy within individual governments. Even studies of the popular expression of conservationist ideas are generally limited to the national or sub-national (province, state, etc.) scale. This paper suggests that conservationist discourse, policy and practice in Canada and the USA were the products of a significant cross-border movement of ideas and initiatives derived from common European sources. In addition, the historical development of common approaches to conservation in North America suggests, contrary to common assumptions, that Canada did not always lag behind the USA in terms of policy innovation. The basic tenets of conservation (i.e. state control over resource, class-based disdain for subsistence hunters and utilitarian approaches to resource management) have instead developed at similar time periods and along parallel ideological paths in Canada and the USA.

Historical data are widely used in river ecology to define reference conditions or to investigate the evolution of aquatic systems. Most studies rely on printed documents from the 19th century, thus missing pre-industrial states and human impacts. This article discusses historical sources that can be used to reconstruct the development of riverine fish communities from the Late Middle Ages until the mid-20th century. Based on the studies of the Austrian Danube and northern Russian rivers, we propose a classification scheme of printed and archival sources and describe their fish ecological contents. Five types of sources were identified using the origin of sources as the first criterion: (i) early scientific surveys, (ii) fishery sources, (iii) fish trading sources, (iv) fish consumption sources and (v) cultural representations of fish. Except for early scientific surveys, all these sources were produced within economic and administrative contexts. They did not aim to report about historical fish communities, but do contain information about commercial fish and their exploitation. All historical data need further analysis for a fish ecological interpretation. Three case studies from the investigated Austrian and Russian rivers demonstrate the use of different source types and underline the necessity for a combination of different sources and a methodology combining different disciplinary approaches. Using a large variety of historical sources to reconstruct the development of past fish ecological conditions can support future river management by going beyond the usual approach of static historical reference conditions.

Which insights can be gained from a long-term study for river management today? Vienna’s layout and city budget are still influenced by interventions undertaken in the 19th century or even earlier. This introduction to a thematic issue on the Viennese Danube’s environmental history from 1500 to 1890 offers a short overview of important events in Vienna’s and the Danube’s intertwined histories as well as an overview of the study’s conceptual basis and summarizes the main results, ranging from method development and floodplain evolution reconstruction to the histories of settlement, sewage and regulation. Today, Vienna is a city with almost 2 million inhabitants, the capital of a small, landlocked country. Since the great regulation of the 1870s, the Danube river has flowed straight through it. A second, parallel river bed was designed in the 1970s to build a retention basin big enough to cope even with major floods. The path leading to this arrangement was both long and winding. To understand the complex interaction between urbanites and the river, one must look beyond the water-filled channel and take the entire floodplain into account. To do this, our interdisciplinary group of researchers synthesized results from river morphology and history into a long-term perspective.

Medieval Vienna was situated at the main arm of the swiftly flowing alpine Danube. From the fourteenth century onwards, the river gradually moved away from the city. This marked the beginning of 500 years of human intervention to prevent further displacement of the river and to preserve the waterway as a vital supply line. Archival research and the GIS-based reconstruction of the past riverscape allow a new view about the co-evolution of the city and the river. Following major channel changes in 1565/1566, repeated attempts to force the main arm into the old river bed were undertaken. By the early seventeenth century, the Viennese had accepted the new situation. Resources were now spent on maintaining the waterway to the city via the remaining Wiener arm. After the second Ottoman siege in 1683, improving the navigability of the Wiener arm, in conjunction with major expansions of the fortifications, became the main issue. Between 1775 and 1792, the first systematic, effective flood protection measures were established. These substantially influenced fluvial dynamics and enabled urban development in parts of the former floodplain. The all-embracing transformation of the dynamic riverscape into stabilised areas enabling urban growth and secure waterways was not achieved until 1875. With this successful “re-invention” of the Viennese Danube, an irreversible path was struck in the common life of the city and the river, a path which is still decisive for the interaction of Vienna with that great European river.

As part of an interdisciplinary project on the environmental history of the Viennese Danube, the past river landscape was reconstructed. This article describes the different types of historical sources used for the GIS-based reconstruction, the underlying methodological approach and its limitations regarding reliability and information value. The reconstruction was based on three cornerstones: (1) the available historical sources; (2) knowledge about morphological processes typical for the Austrian Danube prior to regulation; and (3) the interpretation of past hydraulic measures with respect to their effectiveness and their impact on the river’s behaviour. We compiled ten historical states of the riverscape step-by-step going backwards in time to the early 16th century. After one historical situation had been completed, we evaluated its relevance for the temporally younger situations and whether corrections would have to be made. Such a regressive-iterative approach allows for permanent critical revision of the reconstructed time segments already processed. The resulting maps of the Danube floodplain from 1529 to 2010 provide a solid basis for interpreting the environmental conditions for Vienna’s urban development. They also help to localise certain riverine and urban landmarks (such as river arms or bridges) relevant for the history of Vienna. We conclude that the diversity of approaches and findings of the historical and natural sciences (river morphology, hydrology) provide key synergies.

No abstract available.

No abstract available.

  • Troubling Spaces: Ecological Risk, Narrative Framing, and Emotional Engagement in Franny Armstrong’s The Age of Stupid
    By Alexa Weik von Mossner, in Emotion, Space and Society, Vol. 6.

Franny Armstrong’s The Age of Stupid (2009) presents itself as a documentary about ecological risk and environmental injustice in different geographical regions, while at the same time appealing strongly to our emotions by showing us something we are not yet able to see: the possibly catastrophic future consequences of our present behavior. Through the use of spatial and temporal framing, Armstrong creates a strong cognitive and affective link between the documentation of current social and environmental practices and the imagination of future ecological devastation. Drawing on the pioneering work of cognitive film theorists and other scholars interested in the emotional appeal of non-fiction film, I investigate how The Age of Stupid mediates threatened ecological spaces and associated environmental risks in order to provoke strong affective and cognitive responses from viewers and, ideally, move them to action.

  • Review of Ecocritical Theory: New European Approaches
    By Alexa Weik von Mossner, in Anglia: Journal of English Philology, Vol. 131.

No abstract available.

No abstract available.

No abstract available.

Edited Special Journal Issues
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Popular Media Articles and Blog Posts
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By the dawn of the 19th century, the Netherlands had established colonies and trading posts across Asia and the rest of the world, linking them directly to international networks of intellectual exchange and production. Drawing on extensive new research, and bringing much new scholarship before English readers for the first time, this wide-ranging volume examines how knowledge was created and circulated throughout the Dutch Empire, and how these processes compared with those of the Imperial Britain, Spain, and Russia. The results are of significant interest for historians, anthropologists, geographers, scholars of the history and philosophy of science.

  • Fisheries Management in a Historical Perspective
    Edited by Ingo Heidbrink and Matthew McCarthy (Hull, 2013).

This book brings together revised and extended versions of selected papers given at 2009 conference of the North Atlantic Fisheries History Association (NAFHA) hosted by the Department of History at ODU. Like previous volumes in the series Studia Atlantica the book includes articles by scholar new to the field as well as by renowned fisheries scientists and historians. While the majority of contributions focuses on the history of fisheries management, other articles are dealing with social history of the North Atlantic fisheries and the future of fisheries history research.

(German abstract).

The authors in this volume make a case for LTSER’s potential in providing insights, knowledge and experience necessary for a sustainability transition. This expertly edited selection of contributions from Europe and North America reviews the development of LTSER since its inception and assesses its current state, which has evolved to recognize the value of formulating solutions to the host of ecological threats we face. Through many case studies, this book gives the reader a greater sense of where we are and what still needs to be done to engage in and make meaning from long-term, place-based and cross-disciplinary engagements with socio-ecological systems.

Book Chapters
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Conference description: Titled Communal Pathways to Sustainable Living, the 11th conference of the International Communal Studies Association (ICSA) was hosted by the Findhorn Foundation and Community in late June, 2013. The ICSA holds a conference every three years. It attracts communal scholars (academics from disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, history, education, architecture, politics, utopianism, geography, religious and cultural studies etc.) as well as community activists (members, advocates and associates of intentional communities) who come together to exchange research data and analysis, ideas and applications. Presentations cover diverse aspects of collective life in intentional communities (both historical and contemporary) such as communes, kibbutzim, sectarian communities, ecovillages, cohousing, and housing cooperatives.

  • Raum, Gerechtigkeit und das Heilige: Skizzen zur Umweltästh/ethik
    By Sigurd Bergmann, in Wo steht die Umweltethik? Argumentationsmuster im Wandel, edited by Markus Vogt, Jochen Ostheimer, and Frank Uekötter (Metropolis, 2013).

No description available.

  • Environmental Theology
    By Sigurd Bergmann, in Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions, edited by Anne L. C. Runehov and Lluis Oviedo (Springer 2013).

Book description: In the last quarter century, the academic field of Science and Theology (Religion) has attracted scholars from a wide variety of disciplines. The question is, which disciplines are attracted and what do these disciplines have to contribute to the debate? In order to answer this question, the encyclopedia maps the (self)-identified disciplines and religious traditions that participate or might come to participate in the Science and Religion debate. This is done by letting each representative of a discipline and tradition answer specific chosen questions. They also need to identify the discipline in relation to the Science and Religion debate. Understandably representatives of several disciplines and traditions answered in the negative to this question. Nevertheless, they can still be important for the debate; indeed, scholars and scientists who work in the field of Science and Theology (Religion) may need knowledge beyond their own specific discipline. Therefore the encyclopedia also includes what are called general entries. Such entries may explain specific theories, methods, and topics. The general aim is to provide a starting point for new lines of inquiry.

  • Signals in the Forest: Cultural Boundaries of Science in Bialowieza, Poland
    By Eunice Blavascunas, in New Natures: Joining Environmental History with Science and Technology Studies, edited by Finn Arne Jørgensson, Dolly Jørgenson, and Sarah Pritchard (Pittsburgh University Press, 2013).

Book description: New Natures broadens the dialogue between the disciplines of science and technology studies (STS) and environmental history in hopes of deepening and even transforming understandings of human-nature interactions. The volume presents historical studies that engage with key STS theories, offering models for how these theories can help crystallize central lessons from empirical histories, facilitate comparative analysis, and provide a language for complicated historical phenomena. Overall, the collection exemplifies the fruitfulness of cross-disciplinary thinking.

  • From the Mundane to the Sublime: Science, Empire, and the Enlightenment (1760s – 1820s)
    By Peter Boomgaard, in Empire and Science in the Making: Dutch Colonial Scholarship in Comparative Global Perspective, 1760-1830, edited by Peter Boomgaard (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

Book description: see above.

  • For the Common Good: Dutch Institutions and Western Scholarship on Indonesia around 1800
    By Peter Boomgaard, in Empire and Science in the Making: Dutch Colonial Scholarship in Comparative Global Perspective, 1760-1830, edited by Peter Boomgaard (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

Book description: see above.

  • Population Growth and Environmental Change: A Two-Track Model
    By Peter Boomgaard, in The Routledge Handbook of Southeast Asian History, edited by Norman Owen (Routledge, 2013).

Book description: The study of the history of Southeast Asia is still growing, evolving, deepening and changing as an academic field. Over the past few decades historians have added nuance to traditional topics such as Islam and nationalism, and created new ones, such as gender, globalization and the politics of memory. The Routledge Handbook of Southeast Asian History looks at the major themes that have developed in the study of modern Southeast Asian history since the mid-18th century. Contributions by experts in the field are clustered under three major headings – Political History, Economic History, and Social and Cultural History – and chapters challenge the boundaries between topics and regions. Alongside the rise and fall of colonialism, topics include conflict in Southeast Asia, tropical ecology, capitalism and its discontents, the major religions of the region, gender, and ethnicity. The Handbook provides a stimulating introduction to the most important themes within the subject area, and is an invaluable reference work for any student and researcher on Southeast Asia and Asian and World history.

  • Gouverner Par Les Aléas: Maîtrise Des Coulées de Boue et Mise En Valeur Touristique Des Montagnes À Alma-Ata (Kazakhstan), 1966-1977
    By Marc Elie, in Le Gouvernement Des Catastrophes, edited by Julien Langumier and Sandrine Revet (Editions Karthala, 2013).

Book description: (In French).

  • Global Borders and the Fish that Ignore Them
    By Carmel Finley, in The Nation-State and the Transnational Environment, edited by Mark Lawrence, Erika Bsumek, and David Kinkela (Oxford University Press, 2013).

No description available.

No description available.

  • Eine wechselhafte Geschichte: Wie das Nationalparkgebiet zustande kam” and “Naturschutz unter Strom: Der Bau der EKW verändert den Park
    By Patrick Kupper, in Atlas des Schweizerischen Nationalparks, edited by Ruedi Haller et al. (Haupt, 2013).

No description available.

  • Band Aid Reconsidered: Sentimental Cultures and Populist Humanitarianism
    By Cheryl Lousley, in Popular Representations of Development: Insights from Novels, Films, Television, and Social Media, edited by David Lewis, Dennis Rodgers, and Michael Woolcock (Routledge, 2013).

Book description: Although the academic study of development is well established, as is also its policy implementation, less considered are the broader, more popular understandings of development that often shape agendas and priorities, particularly in representative democracies. Through its accessible and provocative chapters, Popular Representations of Development introduces the idea that while the issue of “development” – defined broadly as problems of poverty and social deprivation, and the various agencies and processes seeking to address these – is normally one that is discussed by social scientists and policy makers, it also has a wider ‘popular’ dimension. Development is something that can be understood through studying literature, films, and other non-conventional forms of representation. It is also a public issue, one that has historically been associated with musical movements such as Live Aid and increasingly features in newer media such as blogs and social networking. The book connects the effort to build a more holistic understanding of development issues with an exploration of the diverse public sphere in which popular engagement with development takes place. This book gives students of development studies, media studies and geography as well as students in the humanities engaging with global development issues a variety of perspectives from different disciplines to open up this new field for discussion.

  • International Systems and Their Discontents
    By J. R. McNeill, in Nation-States and the Global Environment, edited by Erika Marie Bsumek, David Kinkela and Mark A. Lawrence (Oxford University Press, 2013).

Book description: Hardly a day passes without journalists, policymakers, academics, or scientists calling attention to the worldwide scale of the environmental crisis confronting humankind. While climate change has generated the greatest alarm in recent years, other global problems-desertification, toxic pollution, species extinctions, drought, and deforestation, to name just a few-loom close behind. The scope of the most pressing environmental problems far exceeds the capacity of individual nation-states, much less smaller political entities. To compound these problems, economic globalization, the growth of non-governmental activist groups, and the accelerating flow of information have fundamentally transformed the geopolitical landscape. Despite the new urgency of these challenges, however, they are not without historical precedent. As this book shows, nation-states have long sought agreements to manage migratory wildlife, just as they have negotiated conventions governing the exploitation of rivers and other bodies of water. Similarly, nation-states have long attempted to control resources beyond their borders, to impose their standards of proper environmental exploitation on others, and to draw on expertise developed elsewhere to cope with environmental problems at home. This collection examines this little-understood history, providing case studies and context to inform ongoing debates.

  • Une Histoire environnementale du monde dans l’ère des énergies fossiles (1800-2012)
    By J. R. McNeill, in Une Protection de l’environnement à la française?, edited by Charles-François Mathis and Jean-François Mouhot (Champ Vallon, 2013).

Book description: (In French).

  • Problèmes et perspectives de l’histoire globale de l’environnement depuis 1990
    By J. R. McNeill, in Le tournant global des sciences sociales, edited by Alain Caillé and Stéphane Dufoix (La Découverte, 2013).

Book description: (In French).

  • Stadt am Fluss: Wiener Häfen als sozio-naturale Schauplätze von der Frühen Neuzeit bis nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg
    By Martin Schmid, in Orte der Stadt im Wandel vom Mittelalter zur Gegenwart: Treffpunkte, Verkehr und Fürsorge, edited by Lukas Morscher, Martin Scheutz, Walter Schuster (Innsbrucker Studienverlag, 2013).

Book description: (In German).

Only in a long-term perspective does the profound difference between pre-industrial and industrial society-nature relations become clearly visible. Long-term socio-ecological research (LTSER) extends its temporal scope significantly with contributions from environmental history. This chapter discusses the Danube, Europe’s second longest, and the world’s most international river, as a long-term case study. We approach the river as a ‘socio-natural site‘, i.e. the nexus of arrangements (such as harbours, bridges, power plants or dams) with practices (such as river regulation, transportation, food- and energy-procuring). Arrangements and practices are both understood as socio-natural hybrids. We discuss how and why practices and arrangements developed over time and which legacies past practices and arrangements had. We emphasise the role of usable energy (so-called exergy) in the transformation of socio-natural sites. Since industrialisation, the amount of exergy harvestable from the Danube’s arrangements has increased by orders of magnitude and so have the societal and ecological risks from controlling these exergy-dense arrangements. The arrangements we have inherited from our ancestors determine the scope of options we have in the present when dealing with rivers like the Danube. Current management decisions should therefore be based on the firm ground of historical knowledge.

This contribution presents empirical results on changes in socio-ecological metabolism and land use in agriculture in two regions in and around the Upper Austrian Eisenwurzen LTSER Platform from the late nineteenth century to the turn of the twenty-first century. Based on local and regional statistical records, changes in the agricultural production systems are traced and it is shown how industrialisation (marked e.g. by a strong increase in use of machinery and output of yields) shaped two very distinct patterns of change in two biogeographically different regions. While this investigation contributes to two major themes of LTSER, i.e. socio-ecological metabolism and land use, the systemic and quantitative perspective does not per se address LTSER’s third major theme, governance and decision making. We suggest that concepts from environmental history have the potential to fill this gap. Using the concept of socio-natural sites, we explore how the systems perspective can benefit from an actors’ perspective along three examples which could merit empirical research.

  • Introduction and Conclusion
    By Martin Schmid et al, in Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research: Studies in Society-Nature Interactions Across Spatial and Temporal Scales, edited by Simron J. Singh et al. (Springer Netherlands 2013).

No description available.

  • Hope in Dark Times: Climate Change and the World Risk Society in Saci Lloyd’s The Carbon Diaries 2015 and 2017
    By Alexa Weik von Mossner, in Contemporary Dystopian Fiction for Young Adults: Brave New Teenagers, edited by Carrie Hintz, Balaka Basu, and Katherine A. Broad (Routledge, 2013).

Book description: From the jaded, wired teenagers of M.T. Anderson’s Feed to the spirited young rebels of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy, the protagonists of Young Adult dystopias are introducing a new generation of readers to the pleasures and challenges of dystopian imaginings. As the dark universes of YA dystopias continue to flood the market, Contemporary Dystopian Fiction for Young Adults: Brave New Teenagers offers a critical evaluation of the literary and political potentials of this widespread publishing phenomenon. With its capacity to frighten and warn, dystopian writing powerfully engages with our pressing global concerns: liberty and self-determination, environmental destruction and looming catastrophe, questions of identity and justice, and the increasingly fragile boundaries between technology and the self. When directed at young readers, these dystopian warnings are distilled into exciting adventures with gripping plots and accessible messages that may have the potential to motivate a generation on the cusp of adulthood. This collection enacts a lively debate about the goals and efficacy of YA dystopias, with three major areas of contention: do these texts reinscribe an old didacticism or offer an exciting new frontier in children’s literature? Do their political critiques represent conservative or radical ideologies? And finally, are these novels high-minded attempts to educate the young or simply bids to cash in on a formula for commercial success? This collection represents a prismatic and evolving understanding of the genre, illuminating its relevance to children’s literature and our wider culture.

  • Disasters Foretold: Imaging Climate Catastrophe in Six Degrees Could Change the World
    By Alexa Weik von Mossner, in Disaster as Image Iconographies and Media Strategies across Europe and Asia, edited by Monica Juneja and Gerrit Jasper Schenk (Schnell & Steiner, 2013).

No description available.

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