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Borders, Limits and Environment: Times, Spaces, Methods

Frontières et environnement : temps, espaces, méthodes

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Published on Thursday, February 10, 2022

Abstract

The conference “Borders, Limits and Environment: times, spaces, methods” held in Mulhouse from 1st December to 3d December, 2022, aims at deepening the dialogue between humanities and social sciences on environmental questions by considering the theme of borders and limits. These two terms can be considered as historical or geographical objects, but also as a way to reflect upon disciplinary, methodological or didactic limits. During the conference, we wish to study, and maybe to reconnect the links between studies and academic disciplines involving time, space and the environment, especially between environmental history and geohistory of the environment.

Announcement

Presentation

The opposition between history and geography, based on a distinction between space and time, often hides common ground and points of convergence between the two fields. Indeed, they tend to meet up or even interconnect as soon as history takes space into account, or when geography opts for a diachronic approach. Hiding behind different vocabularies and academic affiliations, we can find common fields and areas of study, common methods and results, sometimes even explicit collaborations. Regarding those convergences, both disciplines generally involve an environmental dimension, whether it is studied through a « geohistory of the environment » scope or by « environmental history », thus encouraging potentially fruitful collaborations between history and geography as well as with other social sciences studying the environment.

The conference « Borders, Limits and Environment: Times, Spaces, Methods » held in Mulhouse from 1st December to 3d December, 2022, aims at deepening the dialogue on environmental questions by considering the theme of borders and limits. These two terms can be considered as historical or geographical objects, but also as a way to reflect upon disciplinary, methodological or didactic limits. During the conference, we wish to study, and maybe to reconnect the links between studies and academic disciplines involving time, space and the environment, especially between environmental history and geohistory of the environment.

Conference topics

Proposals may focus on one or several of the following topics, but are not limited to them.

1. Academic borders and bridges

What is environmental history ? What is geohistory of the environment ? These academic denominations refer to characteristic scientific traditions, particular approaches, distinctive vocabularies and specific objects. Some of them are common to history and geography, others are only pertinent in one field or another. In other countries than France, academic and scientific borders are different. Confronting different traditions, epistemologies and concepts, their portability and the collaboration established despite or thank to these differences would allow to identify and to question potential scientific and academic borders. We should also take into accounts the important links that exist with other social sciences and humanities interested in an environmental approach, such as ecology and environmental sciences, archeology, political sciences, climatology… We could finally study the porous borders of sub-disciplines within history and geography, such as time geography, historical geography, global or connected history, urban history…

2. Questioning spatial and temporal boundaries

Natural and human scales rarely match. When studying the environments, how relevant are man-defined temporal or spatial scales? On one hand, classical divisions of time in historical periods show as much continuity as fractures, inviting to go beyond chronological boundaries that are often based on human, rather brief events. Indeed, Fernand Braudel did show in 1949 that some phenomena are only understandable when studied over a long time span. On the other hand, biotopes tend to ignore border stones or immaterial lines, inviting us to study phenomena over human-made limits and to consider global as well as local “natural” scales. However, are we obliged to stick to such a bioregional and long-term approach when environmental policies and practices can also be shaped by anthropicaly-defined settings? How legitimate is the study of an even, the comparative approach or the national scale when studying the relationship between humans and their environment?

3. Environmental bridges and fences

A third line of reflection could focus on specific environments in a border context. Often characterized as “natural borders”, mountains, forests and rivers supporting limit lines between territories inherited such a status late in history, when borders and boundaries started to designate the same linear object. On the opposite, spaces such as cities, whose boundaries can seem incompatible with a cross-border dimension, are now prone to overflow state boundaries, forcing inhabitants and decision-makers to design new strategies taking this context into account (or not). Boundaries that are pushed (such as the American frontier) and environmental interfaces like seashores, foothills, edges and other thresholds can also be taken into account. Such particular environments, whether strongly anthropized or desert, can be obstacles and circulation spaces, peripheries and links between spaces. How have they been perceived and managed throughout history? How did a “border” or “boundary” status shape the evolution of a specific environment and the policies, practices and representations linked to it?

4. Law and border: regulation, cooperation, contestation

The fourth axis of the conference will focus on a crossover approach of law, history and geography to question the diachronic links and interactions between regulations and space. The geo-legal approach has recently sparked a lot of academic interest, including on environmental matters. Law history can also include both a spatial and environmental dimension when it focuses on legislation about specific territories or specific objects. Legal frameworks can also generate contestation, circumvention strategies or cooperation. Focusing on borders and boundaries allows to question the relationship between regulation, space and environment in a twofold comparative perspective: a spatial one, including cross-border situations, and a temporal and methodological one, confronting historical and geohistorical approaches.

5. Fundamental vs. applied sciences

Finally, we wish to question how fundamental research focusing on times and spaces of the environment can feed an applied science. Many historians, geographers and other scientists have managed to participate in action research on topics like risk and disasters knowledge, the evolution of landscapes, the political relationships to the environment… but many questions remain when focusing on the boundary between applied and fundamental research. Such questions could include methodology and critical approaches of environmental topics, goals of action research, relationships between researchers and decision-makers (especially regarding temporality) and the ways academics can engage in such research. The conference will provide the opportunity to create a forum for feedback and discussion about the futur of applied research on the environment. The organizers will thus welcome proposals from institutions, governments, administrations and civil society.

Submission

Submissions need to include an abstract of the presentation (between 2000 and 5000 signs, spaces included) and a short bio of the author(s). It can also include a short bibliography.

Proposals can be written in French or in English, which will be the two languages of the conference.

Submissions are to be sent to benjamin.furst@uha.fr et brice.martin@uha.fr before 15th March 2022.

After review by the scientific committee, notifications will be sent not later than the end of May.

Scientific committee

  • Melanie Arndt (professeure à l’Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg)
  • Didier Boisseuil (Maître de conférences HDR à l’Université de Tours)
  • Jawad Daheur (Chargé de recherche CNRS)
  • Elsa Devienne (Lecturer à la Northumbria University)
  • Magalie Franchomme (Maîtresse de conférences à l’Université de Lille)
  • Florie Giacona (Chargée de recherche INRAE)
  • Charles-François Mathis (Professeur àl’Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)
  • Nancy Meschinet de Richemond (Professeure à l’Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3)
  • Emilie-Anne Pepy (Maîtresse de conférences à l’Université Savoie Mont Blanc)
  • Xavier Rochel (Professeur à l’Université de Lorraine)
  • Philippe Valette (Maître de conférences à l’Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès).

Organising committee

  • Benjamin Furst, ingénieur de recherche en histoire environnementale, UHA
  • Brice Martin, maître de conférences en géohistoire, UHA
  • Teva Meyer, maître de conférence en géopolitique, UHA
  • Audrey Sérandour, post-doctorante, UHA
  • Gaël Bohnert, doctorant, UHA.

Le colloque est organisé et soutenu par le Réseau universitaire de chercheurs en histoire environnementale (RUCHE).

Contact

Places

  • Université de Haute-Alsace - 16 rue de la Fonderie
    Mulhouse, France (68100)

Event attendance modalities

Full on-site event


Date(s)

  • Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Keywords

  • environnement, histoire environnementale, géhistoire, sciences de l'environnement, frontière, méthodologie

Information source

  • Benjamin Furst
    courriel : benjamin [dot] furst [at] uha [dot] fr

License

CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Borders, Limits and Environment: Times, Spaces, Methods », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, February 10, 2022, https://doi.org/10.58079/187x

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