Colonialism, Postcolonialism, and the Environment
May 4-7, 2006, at the German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C.
Karen Oslund (German Historical Institute, Washington D.C.) Niels Brimnes (University of Aarhus, Denmark) Niklas Thode Jensen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark) Christina Folke Ax (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
Today, no-one would dispute that colonialism has made a profound impact on the environment in former colonial areas, an impact which lives on in the post-colonial era, and affects the lives of millions of people. Fifteen years ago, Richard Grove noted that, “colonial ecological interventions exercised a far more profound influence over most people than the more conspicuous and dramatic aspects of colonial rule that have traditionally preoccupied historians.” Since then, the study of the environment in its colonial and post-colonial settings has received an increasing amount of historical attention. Three main lines of inquiry have emerged from research on the wide range of issues related to the field. One deals with the management of physical environments, with the often dramatic changes in landscapes and the immediate physical surroundings. Another focuses on cultural encounters and disputes around environmental issues between colonizers or post-colonial bureaucracies and the colonized population. A third main line of inquiry explores developments in scientific disciplines connected to the environment (such as geology) and the circulation of these practices between colonial centers and the peripheries.
The aim of this conference is to deal with the “environment” in the broad sense outlined by these three main lines of inquiry. We seek to bring together scholars working on various aspects of human interaction with nature in colonial and post-colonial settings in order to understand better how the colonial experience impacted both the environment and human understanding of the natural world.
Possible topics include, but are not limited to: – Agricultural management – The management of “the wild,” including forests, non-arable land, oceans, rivers and lakes – Health, sickness, and medical practices, including botanical practices – Surveying and mapmaking – The viewing of landscape, including the so-called “colonial sciences” of geology, meteorology etc., and how these shaped the ideas of nature – How “environmental”knowledge and practice was transformed as it traveled between the center and the peripheries
The scope of the conference is not limited by region, or to any particular colonial state. Papers dealing with any time period will be considered. Participants will be asked to pre-circulate drafts of their papers two weeks prior to the conference, which should be written in English, the language of the conference. Their travel costs and accommodations will be paid by the German Historical Institute.
To submit a paper, please send a one-page abstract of the proposed paper and a CV with relevant publications (not longer than two pages) by October 1, 2005 to: Bärbel Thomas German Historical Institute 1607 New Hampshire Ave. NW Washington D.C. 20009 Phone: 202-387-3355 Fax: 202-483-3430 Email: [email protected]