Workshop: Famines During the 'Little Ice Age' (1300-1800)

RHN 11/2015 | Event

Convenors: Dr. Dominik Collet / Dr. Maximilian Schuh, Heidelberg Center for the Environment, Junior Research Group "Facing famine"

19-20 February 2015, Bielefeld, Germany

Famines During the 'Little Ice Age' (1300-1800).
Socio-natural Entanglements in Premodern Societies

Global climate change has put famines back on the agenda. The predicted rise of extreme weather raises the question, how similar events were met in historical societies. However, such studies are challenged by disciplinary constraints. Famines occur at the interface of nature and culture. They involve both the bio-physical as well as the social sphere. Their entanglement highlights the co-evolvement of natural environment and social actions. This broad socio-ecological character extends beyond the reach of individual disciplines. As a result, popular references to the dramatic impact of famines during the premodern era are often based on conjectures.

The workshop will bring together researchers from the natural and social sciences as well as the humanities. With reference to recent interdisciplinary concepts (disaster studies, vulnerability studies, environmental history) it will examine, how the dominant opposition of natural and cultural factors can be overcome. Such an integrated approach includes the "archives of nature" as well as "archives of man". In this way, deterministic models can be tested and replaced with a dynamic, historicising approach to the events. During the discussion we are seeking answers to the following topics:

  • Which data, sources and case studies can make integrative approaches work?
  • Which concepts and research designs overcome both climatically and culturally deterministic models?
  • How can we improve our understanding of the entanglement and co-development of environment and society as well as the cultural consequences of extreme natural impacts?
  • How can we uncover the complex historical perceptions, interpretations and coping strategies?


Source: H-Soz-u-Kult