Winding through Central and Eastern Europe, the once longstanding frontier of the Roman empire, the Danube, has carved its way into the landscapes and cultures of the countries it traverses. But the marks of humans, imprints of the Anthropocene, are also clearly visible on the river itself—and on the ecologies and landscapes surrounding it. By uncovering and reading landmarks across time and place, the interactions between societies and rivers can be recounted from different perspectives as multifaceted environmental histories.
The place-based workshop “Danube: Environments, Histories, and Cultures” was the second event of a collaborative research project on rivers organized by the Rachel Carson Center and the Center for Culture, History and Environment at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (the first event took place in 2016 along the Mississippi). The excursion saw a group of professors and graduate students from the US, Germany, and Austria, follow the course of the Danube from Munich to Bratislava. On the way, they explored the world’s most international river from many different, transdisciplinary perspectives. They met with more than a dozen environmental experts and, integrating approaches from disciplines like hydrology, international relations, economics, geography, ecology and conservation, environmental history, and civil engineering, they asked how the river has shaped the lives of humans and how humans have shaped the river.
A kickoff event was hosted at the Rachel Carson Center on Sunday 4 June, 2017. After a general welcome and introductions, Wolfram Mauser gave a talk on “Climate Change and the Danube—the River and its Future.” Over dinner, participants had a chance to get (re)acquainted and discuss the upcoming trip.
Follow this blog series over the next few weeks to read a post about each day of the trip and the environmental histories uncovered. The posts have been written by students from the RCC’s Environmental Studies Certificate Program who took part in the excursion.
The first installment, “Day 1. Munich–Deggendorf” will be out next Friday!