Call for Papers: ICHG 2018 session - Socio-economic Impacts and Landscape Changes due to Severe Winters in Historical Times

RHN 152/2017 | Call

Organiser: Nicolas Maughan, Aix-Marseille University

15-20 July 2018, Warsaw, Poland

Deadline for submissions: 27 October 2017

Call for Papers for a Climate History Session at the
17th International Conference of Historical Geographers, Warsaw 2018
Altered Trajectories: Socio-economic Impacts and Landscape Changes due to Severe Winters in Historical Times

Many historical documents and textual archives contain information with more or less detailed data about extremely long and cold winters for historical times. Moreover, nowadays available temperature reconstructions for different regions, based on instrumental, documentary and natural proxy data, provide useful information to accurately locate particularly cold years/clusters of years or long-lasting frost periods.

Although negative impacts, such as shortages, famines or the emergence of infectious diseases, due to extreme climatic events have already been the subject of several academic works many other environmental aspects are still understudied.

Indeed, many questions remain concerning agricultural and silvicultural practices, switch in land use and transformation of rural landscapes following tree mortality or crop and wine grape losses, but also after migrations to other regions or countries. Consequences on trade and circulation of raw materials, such as wood, together with selection and acclimatization of new cold-tolerant animal and plant species need more attention.

As example, one can mention here the most famous cases in the early 18th century: The Great European Frost of 1709, “le Grand Hiver” in French. After massive tree mortality in many European regions at local and regional level (mainly the oldest and most valuable specimens), wood markets were “glutted” by logs and deeply disrupted for several years; the trade and export of many species of trees, such as the walnut, strongly regulated. In Southern areas, like the South of France, the sudden and unexpected death of almost all olive trees has led to a long-term collapse of regional olive oil production, deep changes into cultivated lands (with an expansion in mulberry tree plantations for the silk-worm/sericulture) but also a migration of artisans and oil workers – and their know-how – to other south European countries.

This panel aims to explore rapid and short-term socio-environmental consequences as well as long-term changes induced by adverse effects of these extreme cold events (evidence of declining impact or increasing adaptability of societies).

Proposed papers can address the social and economic dimensions of cold winter spells and intense frosts but also various environmental aspects related to agriculture, livestock farming, silviculture, forest resources exploitation and management and land-use evolution (without geographical limitation).

Possible topics for submissions might include, but are not restricted to:

  • Settlement and permanent village abandonment, local and regional migrations
  • Consequences of high-death rates on farming, rural economy and cultivated land abandonment
  • Massive boreal, temperate and Mediterranean tree mortality (woods and orchards) caused by cold damages and its management (with subsequent consequences on landscape patterns), crop and wine grape losses from extreme freezes (into grape-growing areas), damages to grain crops, etc…
  • Impact on short and long-term fluctuations in raw material trade, such as wood and timber
  • The rise of new agricultural and forestry practices, attempts at acclimatizing and cultivating new cold-tolerant tree and grain varieties following the decline of some others, potential erosion of soils after the removal of dead trees and stumps and changes in rural landscape structure
  • Massive collapse among livestock then selection and acclimatization of new cold-tolerant domestic cattle and sheep originating from other regions
  • Etc…

Even though proposals focusing on socio-economic impacts and landscape changes from a variety of perspectives will be considered, submissions addressing temperature reconstructions of specific severe winters from original documentary proxies and instrumental observations, that can help shed new light on environmental issues, are also welcome.

An additional aim of this panel is to lay the production for a co-authored article or a thematic issue in a journal about this topic.

If you are interested in participating in this proposed panel (4 to 8 papers in one or two meetings), please contact promptly Nicolas Maughan (Aix-Marseille University, France) and send your proposal (abstract of 250 words maximum) before Friday 27 October 2017. E-mail address:

I'm also looking for a session chair.

Final papers and sessions should be submitted no later than Saturday 28 October 2017.

All accepted participants will be required to register and submit their abstract to the ICGH website following the conference guidelines.

Conference Website:


Nicolas Maughan (environmental and climate history)
Aix-Marseille University, centre St Charles Case 18, 3 place Victor Hugo 13331 Marseille, cedex 03, France
Tel : +33(0)413551167