Environmental Concepts in the Global Age of Revolutions: A Cross-Disciplinary Symposium

27 May 2022, 9:30 am–5:00 pm


This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Alessandro de Arcangelis – History


Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre
Wilkins Building
Gower Street, London

In recent years, the proliferation of global approaches to the so-called ‘Age of Revolutions’ of the long nineteenth century (c. 1789–1914) has reshaped understanding of this period, upending longstanding Eurocentric perspectives with a more pluralistic outlook emphasising a broader range of contexts, ideas and events. Among historians, specific revolutionary experiences have increasingly been considered in the light of global processes of integration, thereby helping uncover previously neglected linkages among geographically dispersed manifestations of the revolutionary age. While much of this historiography revolves around arguments for seeing global revolutionary conjunctures as a response to an experience of ‘world crisis’, a further and overlapping conceptual challenge comes from alternative perspectives on temporality and catastrophe which have developed around the notion of ‘the Anthropocene’. A key task for contemporary scholarship, therefore, is the confrontation and potential integration of new approaches focused on the impact of humans on nature, and on environmental history, with the ongoing re-evaluations posited by global history approaches to the Age of Revolutions, and encompassing the political, intellectual, ideological, social and economic foundations of the ‘modern’ world.

Relatively little scholarly attention has as yet been placed on the environmental dimensions of the global Age of Revolutions, and on the ways in which this signified re-orientations of the relationships between humans and the natural environment. Similarly, very few historians have explored the extent to which the political experiences of revolution were energised by shifting spatial concepts, and novel perspectives on the interplay between the environment and human history. Furthermore, a consensus on how the global wave of Revolutions brought about an understanding of environmental change remains missing. Against this background, a growing body of literature calling for a greater emphasis on Nature and the natural in the political, intellectual and cultural history of the modern world makes these historiographic lacunae all the more problematic. At present, scholarly perspectives are offering engaging and fruitful approaches to these challenges. Research conducted with reference to the Anthropocene, in particular, provides a new hermeneutics capable of recasting our historical understanding of human interactions with the planet, and one which invites a critical perspective on the juncture of political and environmental imaginations during the Age of Revolutions.

This one-day conference seeks to explore these themes by encouraging a cross-disciplinary and transregional discussion on the links between environmental and ecological concepts and the global revolutionary process. It aims at bringing together experts from various areas of social sciences and humanities, and at drawing from the resources of neighbouring disciplines (including, but not limited to: history, philosophy, geography, politics, literature, sociology, and economics) to reflect on interrelated questions such as: how was the global wave of Revolutions of this period influenced by environmental imaginations? To what extent did these Revolutions engender new perspectives on the relationship between humans and the natural environment? How did the experiences of crisis in different settings of global revolution signify a growing awareness of ecological change? And how did shifting notions of land, territory and space, broadly conceived, relate to visions of state- and polity-building?

This event is organised by Dr Simon Macdonald and Alessandro de Arcangelis

Register for the event here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/environmental-concepts-in-the-global-age-of-revolutions-tickets-310337356387

About the Speaker

Prof. Pierre Charbonnier

at CNRS / Sciences Po, Paris

More about Prof. Pierre Charbonnier