Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


CALL FOR PAPERS: Environmental Concepts in the Global Age of Revolutions (c. 1789–1914)

22 March 2022

We are delighted to share this call for papers which is partially funded by the Institute of Advanced Studies. It will take place on 27 May 2022 in the Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre. The deadline for submission is 15 April 2022.


Keynote: Prof. Pierre Charbonnier (CNRS /Sciences Po, Paris)

In recent years, the proliferation of global approaches to the so-called ‘Age of Revolutions’ of the long nineteenth century (c. 17891914) 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 manifestationsof the revolutionary age. While much of this historiography revolves around arguments forseeing global revolutionary conjuncturesas 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-evaluationsposited 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 dimensionsof the global Age of Revolutions, and on the ways in which this signified re-orientationsof the relationshipsbetween 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 newhermeneutics capable of recastingour historical understanding of human interactions with the planet, and one which invitesa 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 trans-regional 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 inter-related 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 perspectiveson 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?

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The deadline for submission is 15 April 2022

We invite proposals from a diversity of fields working at the intersection of environmental thinking and the global history of revolutions. Please email your CV and an abstract of max. 500 words for papers of 30 minutes to: uclcth@gmail.com. For more information, do not hesitate to contact Dr Alessandro De Arcangelis (alessandro.arcangelis.13@ucl.ac.uk) or Dr Simon Macdonald (simon.macdonald@ucl.ac.uk).