Regional Plenaries at the 4th World Congress of Environmental History

Scroll this

This is the fourth post in a series about global environmental history and the World Congress of Environmental History published in collaboration with the International Consortium of Environmental History Organizations (ICEHO). The fourth World Congress will be held this August in Oulu, Finland.

How can we bring the world to Oulu? This is the riddle of any international meeting, but especially for a field that is so deeply rooted in place. How to incorporate diverse experiences and knowledges, spanning the globe, in a coherent way; how to bring people together, while reaching outward; how to acknowledge and learn from – how, as the saying goes, travel the world without leaving home (or, Finland); how to involve people from away in the conversation? 

Literally: how to be a world congress? 

For the 4th WCEH in Oulu, we’re experimenting with a series of Regional Plenaries: high-level invited panels that speak from different regions around the world. (Not quite the four corners of the earth, but … ) The idea was to “bring” the congress assembled in Oulu to a different part of the world each day of the program. As these evolved, they also expanded creatively, to incorporate different formats, themes, and subjects, exploring what technology might allow us to do in the academic era after COVID. Much credit to the plenary organizers, who served on the Program Committee as well.

Here’s what you have to look forward to! (All times in local/Eastern European Summer Time)

South Asian Plenary Roundtable: Environmentalism and the Arts – Tuesday 11:15-13:00

Organizer: Anupama Mohan (Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur)

India’s sudden, unprecedented success at the Oscars in 2023 with All that Breathes and The Elephant Whisperers, both documentaries with strong environmental-humanist themes, brings to new light the fact that the arts have always been engaged with issues concerning the environment. The South Asian Plenary asks what kind of environmentally-formed historical understanding is possible when representation is shifted and interpreted through the arts. Includes screening of contemporary work. 

Two South Asian people sit at an interview table with a bright light set up between them. The man on the left holds a red model ship. There are historic images and artifacts hanging on the wall behind them.
From Naiza Khan, Mapping Water (2023).

Meaning(s) of Water and Humanities for Africa – Wednesday 14:30-16:15

Organizers: James McCann (Boston University) and Admire Mseba (USC Dornsife)

“Why live on water?” Water as a theme affords the opportunity to explore the scientific, social, and cultural engagement with the natural world. This plenary asks about the role of water in different locations across the African continent, ranging from the spiritual meaning of the upper Nile to the cultural construction of the Zambezi and the architectural constructions of adaptations in west Africa.  

A wood-block print featuring fish printed on linen from Egypt, 13th century
Wood-block print on linen, Egypt, Mamluk period, 13th century. Cleveland Museum of Art.

Key Environmental Transitions in Latin American Environmental History  – Thursday 16:45 – 18:00

Organizers: Claudia Leal (Universidad de los Andes, Colombia) and Sandro Dutra da Silva (UniEvangelica, Brazil)

This plenary session of four presentations will explore four key themes and transitions in Latin America’s environmental past, including the legacies of pre-Columbian human activities on the Amazon forest; deforestation in the past half-century, and its relationship with modern agriculture; and recent energy transitions. The presenters will show how the region’s unique and diverse environments underline pivotal historical trajectories, which are deeply entangled with developments elsewhere in the world.

Ana Mercedes Hoyos, Forest (1982)

Environmental History, Environmental Humanities, and More-than-human Approaches from the Pacific – Friday 9:00-10:45

Organizers: Emily O’Gorman  (Macquarie University) and Sophie Chao (University of Sydney)

Scholars of the Pacific world pursue the experience of the more-than-human to examine uneven landscape transformations and address the legacies of colonial racial capitalism. Is there a distinctive Pacific approach to environmental history, environmental humanities, and the more-than-human world? This plenary will incorporate short recorded presentations and then an online Q&A session with the audience.

Shane Cotton, Tuna (1996)

The following two tabs change content below.
Professor of History at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, where I revel in Canadiana and environmental history. Also a lover of exploring, maps, Jane of Lantern Hill, and Scandinavia.

NiCHE encourages comments and constructive discussion of our articles. We reserve the right to delete comments that fail to meet our guidelines including comments under aliases, or that contain spam, harassment, or attacks on an individual.