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For its 10th anniversary, le RUCHE
(French branch of the ESEH) invites all the researchers who work on the environment
to reflect on their methods and practices


Writing Environmental History in the 21st century:

Sources, Methods and Practices 


International Conference of the RUCHE

Lyon (France), June 13-15, 2018.

Call for papers : click here AAC-RUCHE-2018


The relationships between humans and their natural environment and other living beings; the production and treatment of waste; the mobilization and consumption of energy; industrial, agricultural, and domestic nuisances and their impact on health and the environment; the uses and management of forests, coastlines, mountains, swamps and commons; urban environments; relationships to rivers; environmentalism; natural or human-caused catastrophes; climate change; consequences of major developments, etc. The objects of environmental history are varied and so are the methods that have been developed to analyze them. In the past decade, the number of publications on environmental history in France has soared and contacts with researchers in other countries working on similar topic have multiplied.

While scholars—geographers, rural historians, etc.—had already paid attention to some of these objects in the past, environmental history has helped renew and broaden our understanding of these issues, in particular in light of the “sustainability” challenges prompted by the technical choices and economic models of development that appeared at the end of the 18th century and which intensified and spread globally in the 20th century. Faced with such incredibly complex questions, environmental historians are aware that no single discipline can pretend to ask and answer all our questions. Where the environment is concerned, trans- or interdisciplinarity is even more essential than it is for other topics of historical research. Moreover, interdisciplinarity, where the environment is concerned, does not simply entail forging connections between the human and social sciences but, more crucially, with disciplines that are even more foreign to historians, such as biology, ecology, and geology.

Take this example: is it even possible, today, to write the history of pollution—of the effluents discharged in our air, water, and soils—without trying to understand the evolution of production processes and, thus, the evolution of chemistry itself? Or without using any notion of eco-toxicology? Moreover, shouldn’t such a history of pollution enter into a dialogue with those who work on green technologies to remedy, if only partially, the damages caused by humans in the past and, in that way, contribute to weaving together the past, the present and the future? Environmental questions are fundamentally hybrid: they touch on social, economic, cultural, natural and technical issues and thus cannot be studied solely by one discipline. In order to include all these dimensions, inter and trans-disciplinarity is essential.

However, as the experience of interdisciplinary projects led within the CNRS (the French national scientific research center) has shown in the last decades, it remains difficult to produce truly interdisciplinary work. Difficulties stem from the specificity of scientific disciplines, which, for some of them, were shaped in opposition to others and which have their own vocabulary, methods, and questions. The different types of data used compound these difficulties as they usually mean scientists work on very different time scales, from a few years to thousands of years. Moreover, within each discipline, a gap (more or less wide depending on the periods under study) tends to separate scholars who work with written and oral sources and those who use “data from the ground,” whatever the method they use to analyze them. Overcoming these difficulties is a necessary step if we want to benefit from a true interdisciplinary approach to complex environmental problems.

For its tenth anniversary, the Academic Networks of Environmental Historians (Réseau universitaire de chercheurs en histoire environnementale) invites researchers from all disciplines who work on the environment to reflect on the sources, practices and methods that can help us gain greater knowledge of shared topics of interest. While this conference is initiative by the historians of RUCHE, we hope to receive papers from scholars from other disciplines and working on different periods. Proposals from all disciplines are welcome as long as they concern, one way or another, environmental history. The organizers hope that the proposals will allow for interdisciplinary discussions within each session.

The conference’s objectives are:

* Assess and discuss the main scientific innovations and projects that have recently advanced the case for interdisciplinarity in the study of environmental history. We are interested in all kinds of projects (interdisciplinary methods or objects) and in particular in the participants’ experiences, whether positive, challenging or disappointing in this domain. How were those interdisciplinary projects conceived? Do scholars manage to cross disciplinary approaches (rather than simply juxtapose them)? What do we learn from transdisciplinary research?

* Explore new research directions and unexplored topics in environmental history, conceived broadly as the analysis of the evolving interactions between human societies and their environments.

* Reflect on how we use sources (oral, written, or extracted from the earth); how different kinds of data can yield different kind of knowledge and how best to combine them. How can we ensure that historians, geographers, ecologists, etc. enter into a fruitful dialogue that could enrich their respective practices? How can we address the different scales of time, make different temporalities fit together?

* Evaluate and question the social utility of environmental history. Early on in the US, the field contributed to “public history,” a type of science aimed at creating a dialogue with public entities and responding to their needs. What about France where some projects are funded by public-private partnerships? How can we foster collaboration between science and society and more visibility for scientific research findings? Which scientific problems emerge when public actors and scientists collaborate? What are the limits to this approach?


We encourage interested researchers to circulate this call for papers within the networks of their own discipline.

Conference Keynotes by :

Christophe Bernhardt, Leibniz-Institut für Raumbezogene Sozialforschung, Berlin-Erkner
Martin Schmid, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt in Wien,
Petra van Dam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


Proposals should be no more than 5 000 characters and should be accompanied by a short bio paragraph of the author(s). They should be addressed to Stéphane Frioux at


Deadline to send paper proposals: November 15, 2017


Proposals will be evaluated by the scientific committee and decisions will be made before the end of the calendar year.

The organizers are currently finalizing the conference’s funding and hope to cover the accommodations of all participants. However, participants will have to cover their trip expenses to travel to Lyon.

Organization committee

Martine Chalvet, historian, Associate Professor at Aix-Marseille Université, UMR TELEMME

Florian Charvolin, sociologist, Senior Researcher at CNRS, Centre Max Weber

Pierre Cornu, historian, Professor, Lyon 2, Laboratoire d’études rurales

Thierry Coanus, anthropologist, Researcher at ENTPE, UMR Environnement Ville Société

Marylise Cottet, geographer, Researcher at CNRS, UMR Environnement Ville Société

Anne Dalmasso, historian, Professor at Université Grenoble-Alpes, Laboratoire de recherche historique Rhône-Alpes (LARHRA)

Stéphane Frioux, historian, Associate Professor at université Lyon 2, Laboratoire de recherche historique Rhône-Alpes (LARHRA), vice-président du RUCHE.

Nicolas Jacob, geographer, Associate Professor at université Lyon 2, UMR Archéorient

Gwenaëlle Legoullon, historian, Associate Professor at université Lyon 3, Laboratoire de recherche historique Rhône-Alpes (LARHRA)

Geneviève Massard-Guilbaud, historian, senior researcher at EHESS, Centre de Recherche sur l’Environnement et le Développement (CIRED).

Charles-François Mathis, historian, Associate Professor at Université Bordeaux-Montaigne, CEMC, president of RUCHE.


Scientific committee

Mathieu Arnoux, historian, medievalist, Université Paris Diderot/EHESS (to confirm)

Philippe Barral, celtic world archeologist, Université de Franche Comté, director of the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme et de l’Environnement C.-N. Ledoux.

Sabine Barles, geography and urban planning, professor at Université Paris-I.

Corinne Beck, historian, medievalist and archeologist, professor at Université de Valenciennes et du Hainaut-Cambrésis, head of the Laboratoire CALHISTE.

Stéphane Frioux, historian, modern history, maître de conférences at Université Lyon 2, LARHRA.

Marc Galochet, geographer, professor at the Université de Valenciennes et du Hainaut-Cambrésis, laboratoire CALHISTE.

Didier Galop, geographer, Toulouse Jean-Jaurès University, head of the laboratoire GEODE, head of l’Observatoire Hommes Milieux du Haut-Vicdessos.

Anne Marie Granet-Abisset, historian, modern history, Professor at Université Grenoble-Alpes, Laboratoire de recherche historique Rhône-Alpes (LARHRA).

Geneviève Massard-Guilbaud, historian, modern history, directrice d’études at the EHESS and CIRED.

Charles-François Mathis, historian, modern history, maître de conférences at Université Bordeaux-Montaigne University, CEMC.

Raphaël Morera, historian, early modern history, chargé de recherche au CRH (Centre de Recherches Historiques).

Richard Oram, historian, medieval and environmental history, University of Stirling (to confirm)

Giacomo Parrinello, historian, modern history, assistant professor en histoire de l’environnement, Sciences Po Paris ; Centre d’histoire de Sciences Po.

Dieter Schott, historian, modern history, TU Darmstadt  (to confirm)

Tim Soens, historian, medieval history, professor at the University of Antwerp.

Mathias Tranchant, historian, medievalist, University of La Rochelle, UMR LIENSs (Coastline, Environment and Societies)

And the RUCHE Board members

Citar este post
pcorral (2017, 1 octubre). CfP – COLLOQUE INTERNATIONAL DU RUCHE. « ECRIRE L’HISTOIRE ENVIRONNEMENTALE AU XXIE SIÈCLE: SOURCES, MÉTHODES ET PRATIQUES » (Lyon, Juin 13-15, 2018). RUEDHA. Recuperado 1 de marzo de 2024, de

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