[H-verkko] CFP: Resistance, protest and criticism in the name of nature: USSR and post-Soviet states, 1950-2010

agricola at utu.fi agricola at utu.fi
La Helmi 14 11:33:29 EET 2015

Agricolan artikkelipyyntöihin on lähetetty uusi ilmoitus:
Resistance, protest and criticism in the name of nature: USSR and post-Soviet
states, 1950-2010
Resistance, protest and criticism in the name of nature: USSR and post-Soviet
states, 1950-2010
Conference in Moscow, 8-9 October 2014
EcoGlobReg | DHI | CFR
This conference will look at resistance in the name of nature against
industrialist and transformist projects in the Soviet and post-Soviet space from
the 1950s to the present. How did people at local and regional levels mobilize
nature in their practices of discontent (open protests, passive resistance,
lawsuits and others) when confronting industrial interests, state projects and
rampant transformations that impacted their lifestyle and violated their
conception of a proper environment?

In the environmental history of the Soviet Union we usually emphasize the
unstoppable bulldozer of progress that turned the rivers into dam cascades,
irrigated dry steppes, drained peat bogs, placed nuclear power stations and
highly polluting industries near densely populated areas, and destroyed natural
and traditional landscapes. Most of the time we present the productivist thrust
of the Soviet state as advancing unchallenged, with the force of
quasi-historical necessity. Although ecological activists from urban areas have
been closely studied by historians (Weiner, Josephson), we have little research
on the protest culture of the people affected by these transformations and how
they confronted the risks and nuisances associated with them in the Soviet and
post-Soviet world: peasants and landowners, indigenous peoples, nomad herders,
workers at polluting plants, inhabitants of contaminated areas, hunters and
fishermen, “unorganized” tourists and so on.

We wish to put three groups of actors to the fore: first, we want to give a
voice to those social actors who refused the obligatory direction of history
toward the industrial control of nature (understood as natural resources) and
cherished modes of interacting with their local or regional environment other
than what “modernization” dictated, or more modestly tried to avoid the most
disastrous transformations. How did they express their concerns and what
alternative conceptions of nature did they defend?

Second, we study the interaction of state actors informed by visions of a tamed
and useful nature with the people who felt directly concerned by their projects.
How did Party leaders and state administrators take these challenges and checks
into account if at all, whether crushing, ignoring, compensating or integrating
them? What compromises in their initial plans were they prepared to make in the
name of differing conceptions of the use of nature and a healthy environment?

Third, scientific and technical experts played an important mediating role
between local people and decision-makers. How did they create, frame and
advocate environmental issues? Or alternatively, how did they make environmental
change appear acceptable and desirable to the people it affected?

By drawing attention to bottom-up resistance on behalf of nature from the 1950s
and how it was suppressed, incorporated or bypassed in the USSR and its
successor States, we hope to go some way in explaining the upsurge of
environmental activism in the perestroika years and understanding the
significance and limits of its decline in the post-Soviet period.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of possible topics:

·         What role did international contacts and globalized
environmental concepts play in formulating ecological issues and mobilizing
opinion around them?

·         How did industrial pollution impact workers and their

·         How did opposition to nuclear power and other industrial
sites arise, up to the mass rallies of the 1980s?

·         How did usage conflicts develop, especially in the
agricultural and tourist sectors (soils, forest, water, pasture)?

·         How did state actors take account of the risks of progress in

·         How were nature and related concepts (landscape, life,
environment, ecology) mobilized in the negotiations around industrial
implantation and transformist projects?

The conference will be held on 8-9 October 2015 in Moscow (exact location will
be announced later). Working languages will be Russian and English.

Abstracts (in Russian or English, no more than 400 words) should be submitted by
email to in-the-name-of-nature at ecoglobreg.org by 15 March 2015. The organizers
will respond by 15 May 2015.

The selected speakers will have their travel and accommodation expenses covered.

Papers will be requested by 15 September 2015 so as to be circulated among
speakers in advance of the conference.

Institutional and financial support
The German Historical Institute (www.dhi-moskau.org) and the French-Russian
Research Center (www.centre-fr.net) in Moscow contribute to financing the
conference and provide essential organisational support.

EcoGlobReg is a joint French-German historical research project financed by
Agence National de la Recherche (ANR) and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).
It is devoted to understanding how ecological concerns shaped society and
politics in the late Soviet Union and the post-Soviet space. We analyse the
sometimes tumultuous processes associated with the ecologization and
de-ecologization of politics and society in the last three decades of the 20th
century. By “ecologization” we mean the social dissemination and deepening
political use of scientific knowledge on the state of the environment. We
isolate three main vectors for spreading ecological preoccupations in society
and political discourse: social activism and protest for the protection of
landscapes and life conditions; environmental disasters understood as catalysts
of discontent and revealers of failed relationships between society and nature;
and sensitization and popularization (in the media and education) of nature seen
as threatened by economic development.

The project takes ecologization and de-ecologization to be essentially
globalized processes. It shows how environmental issues acquired a global
character at the turn of the 1960s-1970s and what role Soviet citizens played in
this process. From there the project moves to asking whether the Soviet Union
entered an “environmental turn” comparable to the one identified for
capitalist countries. But transnational and globalizing trends are only one
aspect of ecologization. The project pays attention to the regionalization of
power dynamics: strengthened national and regional identities fired ecological
mobilization in the perestroika years; well before that point in Soviet history,
they played a major role in shaping environmental protest. Last, the apparent
de-ecologization of public discourse in the post-Soviet era, marked by green
activists withdrawing from the political scene, will be examined to see how
environmental practices have evolved and taken on new forms.



Ilmoituksen lähetti: Agricola <agricola at utu.fi>
Ilmoitus vanhentuu: 16.3.2015
Lisätietoja WWW-osoitteesta: http://www.ecoglobreg.org