HomeHuman Geography of Post-Socialist Mountain Regions

Human Geography of Post-Socialist Mountain Regions

La géographie humaine des régions de montagnes post-socialistes

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Published on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 by Céline Guilleux


In this issue, the JAR/RGA will ask in which ways do post-socialist mountain regions differ from mountains in other world regions (in terms of land management, livelihoods, conservation, political governance, or scientific considerations)? Are there any particularities that could be labelled as post-socialist, post-communist or post-Soviet? In which ways do the legacies (physical and institutional) of socialist systems influence environments and societies in these mountain areas today?



The political situation during the so-called Cold War divided alpine and mountain research into at least two sections. From a Western perspective, knowledge about the mountains located behind the iron curtain was very limited as a consequence of accessibility difficulties and the fact that studies conducted by colleagues from socialist countries were rarely available, written in a non-Western language or just ignored. With the 1989/91 transformation, the numerous Eurasian mountain ranges, such as the Slovenian Alps, High Tatra, Carpathians, Ural, Caucasus, Altai, Tian Shan, Pamir, Changai, Kamchatka, or the Truong Son in South East Asia came into focus and raised the awareness of the international scientific community. This resulted in several studies from various disciplinary backgrounds on physical and socio-economic aspects of the mountain areas in former socialist countries.

Although some of these studies deal with the socialist past and the post-socialist present, rarely are there studies that explicitly point out the particularities of post-socialism in relation to mountain areas. Thus, the question arises, in which ways do post-socialist mountain regions differ from mountains in other world regions (in terms of land management, livelihoods, conservation, political governance, or scientific considerations)? Are there any particularities that could be labelled as post-socialist, post-communist or post-Soviet? In which ways do the legacies (physical and institutional) of socialist systems influence environments and societies in these mountain areas today?

There is no doubt that the political, economic, and social systems of party-ruled state socialism significantly influenced the way mountains are perceived and valuated, managed and utilized. Forces such as the specific forms of administration, economic exploitation, ideals of preservation and recreation, social restructuring and state control, collectivization, forced sedentarisation or security requirements, frame the conditions and activities that have shaped the specific montane regions. However, this does not mean to neglect the other, maybe more influencing factors such as climate change, transnational co-operations, globalization or neoliberalisation processes, that permeate all mountain areas in the world. The aim of this special issue is to identify specific features in fields such as resource management, nature conservation, livelihood strategies and vulnerabilities, migration or tourism that can be characterized as post-socialist in mountains of former socialist states.

Potential Topics

Resource management: In many cases a lack of institutions as consequence of political transition, decollectivisation, and privatization processes has led to the exploitation of natural resources and unsustainable resource utilization. What are the consequences in ecological, political or socioeconomic terms? Is there a renaissance of traditional forms or is the development of new, more individualized forms of forest, pasture and water utilization more prominent? What are the consequences of the increasing commodification of resources on social cohesion?

Nature conservation: Nature conservation of specific areas was not unknown in the socialist era; e.g. several national parks and nature reserve zones were established in the Soviet Union. How do the dominant international conservation concepts fit with these existing reserves, where are fields of conflict, and in which way has the nature conservation system changed?

Livelihoods, vulnerability and resilience: Economic decline and restructuring, and the cutting of state subsidies and market competence resulted in higher vulnerabilities and the need to change livelihood strategies for most households in peripheral mountain areas. Are there typical forms of sustaining livelihoods in post-socialist mountains? In which way are household strategies for survival shaped by the socialist legacy? Do privatization and liberalization processes mean more vulnerability for the local populations?

Depopulation of mountain areas and migration: Mountain areas are often peripheral regions in political, economic and social terms. The outmigration of mainly young people in several post-socialist mountain areas, to urban centres in the lowlands or abroad, leads to depopulation and an overaged population. What are the implications of this form of outmigration? What are the perspectives for mountain areas marked by an overaged population and a decreasing state interest?

Tourism and mountaineering: Recreational activities for the socialist labourer was organized and strictly regulated by the state through the establishment of specific tourist resorts. The privatization and easier accessibility for the international community has changed the forms, expressions, and consequences of tourism. This has allowed the Carpathians, Caucasus or Tian Shan to become popular trekking and mountaineering regions. What are recent strategies and forms of tourism, recreation, and mountaineering and what are the consequences?


Please send abstracts in English (approximately 1000 words) to Matthias Schmidt (schmidt@kusogeo.uni-hannover.de) and Dominique Baud (dominique.baud@ujf-grenoble.fr), University of Grenoble, Journal of Alpine Research / Revue de géographie alpine.

before May 31st, 2015.

Please include the following details: Surname, name, status, research group. Authors will get feedback as soon as possible.

Final articles are expected in October 2015 in two versions.

If the submitted paper is in French, Italian, German or Spanish, the translation must be in English, and if the submitted paper is in English, the translation must be in French.

The issue will be published around September 2016.

Select Commitee

  • Anne-Laure Amilhat-Szary, Professeure à l’Université Joseph Fourier / CNRS-PACTE / Institut Universitaire de France
  • Jörg Balsiger, Collaborateur scientifique et Chargé de cours, Département de géographie et environnement et Institut des sciences de l’environnement, Université de Genève, University of Geneva, Suisse, Genève
  • Jean-Baptiste Bing, Université de Genève, département de géographie et environnement
  • Sophie Bonin, Maître de conférences, École Nationale Supérieure de Paysage de Versailles, France
  • Anne Dalmasso, Maître de conférence d’histoire contemporaine, Université Pierre Mendès France et membre de l’équipe Sociétés, Entreprises et Territoires, UMR CNRS 5190 LARHRA (Laboratoire de Recherche Historique Rhône-Alpes), Grenoble, France
  • Bernard Debarbieux, Professeur à l’Université de Genève, Suisse
  • Pierre Derioz, Maître de Conférences HDR en Géographie, Université d’Avignon et des Pays de Vaucluse, UMR Espace-Dev 228 IRD (Maison de le télédétection), Montpellier, France
  • Marie-Christine Fourny, Professeure à l’Université Joseph-Fourier-Grenoble, France,
  • Stéphane Gal, Maître de conférences en histoire moderne, Laboratoire de recherche historique Rhône-Alpes (LARHRA), Université Lumière Lyon 2.
  • Franck Giazzi, enseignant-chercheur au laboratoire PACTE territoires (UJF/CNRS) et à l’Institut de Géographie alpine, Grenoble, France
  • Emmanuelle George-Marcelpoil, Directrice de l’unité de recherche Développement des territoires Montagnards, Irstea Grenoble, Saint Martin d’Hères
  • Lauranne Jacob, Doctorante au Labex ITEM, laboratoire PACTE, Grenoble, France, et au département de Géographie de l’UNIGE, Genève, Suisse
  • Coralie Mounet, Chargée de Recherches, CNRS, Laboratoire Pacte UMR 5194, Grenoble.
  • Mari Oiry, Université de Chambéry
  • Anne Sgard, professeure à l’Université de Genève, Suisse ;


  • Philippe Bourdeau, Professeur à l’Université Joseph Fourier / Institut de Géographie Alpine / UMR PACTE, à Grenoble, France
  • Sylvie Duvillard, Maître de Conférence à l’Université Pierre Mendès-France, Grenoble II et chercheur au laboratoire pacte-Grenoble I
  • Dominique Baud, Maître de conférence en géographie et géomatique, Laboratoire PACTE, UMR 5194 CNRS / Institut de Géographie Alpine / Université Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble, France

The above three are co-directors of publications.

 Enlarged comittee

  • Winfried E. H. Blum, Professor Emeritus, Institute of Soil Research, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU),Vienne, Autriche
  • Axel Borsdorf, Professeur à l’Université d’Innsbrück, Autriche
  • Federica Corrado, Politecnico di Torino, Italie
  • Cristina Del Biaggio, chercheuse invitée (post-doc) à l’Instituts of European Studies de l’Université d’Amsterdam, Pays-Bas
  • Monique Fort, Professeure Émérite (Géographie, Géomorphologie), UFR Géographie, Histoire et Sciences de la Société, UMR 8586 PRODIG, Université Paris Diderot, France
  • JC Gaillard, Associate Professor, The University of Auckland, Nouvelle-Zélande
  • Martin Price, Professor of Mountain Studies, Director of the Centre for Mountain Studies, Chairholder, UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Mountain Development, Perth College, University of the Highlands and Islands, Royaume-Uni.
  • Manfred Perlik, Professeur à l’Académie Européenne (EURAC) à Bolzano (Italie) ; au Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) de l’Université de Bern (Suisse) ; associé au Laboratoire PACTE, UMR 5194 CNRS, Grenoble (France)
  • Thomas Scheurer, Directeur de l’ISCAR (International Scientific Committee on Alpine Research) et de l’ICAS (Commission interacadémique recherche alpine des Académies Suisses des Sciences), Suisse.
  • Gian Paolo Torricelli, Professeur (Géographie urbaine et  Développement territorial), Responsable de l’Observatoire du développement territorial du Canton du Tessin, Accademia di Architettura, Università della Svizzera italiana, Mendrisio, Suisse.


  • Sunday, May 31, 2015


  • post-socialisme, post-soviétique, politique écologique, gestion des ressources, protection de la nature, tourisme, moyen de subsistance, livelihood


  • Mathias Schmidt
    courriel : schmidt [at] kusogeo [dot] uni-hannover [dot] de
  • Dominique Baud
    courriel : dominique [dot] baud [at] univ-grenoble-alpes [dot] fr

Information source

  • Christine Hoyon
    courriel : christine [dot] hoyon [at] orange [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Human Geography of Post-Socialist Mountain Regions », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, March 25, 2015, https://calenda.org/322617

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