Matthias Heymann, Aarhus University, Denmark
Resources & crises
There are many examples in history where the overexploitation of resources led to depletion and pollution and caused societal, environmental and technological crises. Yet, there is no comprehensive discussion how societies responded to resource crises, how they perceived and framed these crises, formed and pursued strategies of relief, changed patterns of resource exploitation, ‘constructed’ new resources (such as physical or rhetorical substitutes), employed new geopolitical policies (from securing foreign resources to waging wars) and developed new technologies (such as technologies increasing resource availability or efficiency) to overcome crises.
The aim of this research group is to examine connections between resources, crises and technology in Europe or in European engagements beyond Europe in the 19th to 21st centuries. Particular attention will be paid to the circulation of technologies, knowledge and ideas within Europe and from or to Europe, which are related to resource crises. This includes circulation processes within individual countries (e.g. between centers and periphery), in between European countries (e.g. East-West and North-South) and between Europe and other continents (e.g. with European colonies). With this approach we propose to discuss the crossroads between the history of technology, environmental history, and the history of exploitation of natural resources in a longue-durée perspective with the help of individual case studies.
Major questions to be asked
- How was technology used by European states, scientists, local communities and other actors to explore, excavate, transform and use natural resources? What impact did it have on changing patterns of resource use?
- How did actual or perceived resource crises support the development and application of technologies and the exploration of new resources and new territories?
- Which geopolitical implications did resource needs and perceptions and visions of resources in Europe have beyond Europe?
- How did perceptions and visions of resources and the relations of society, technology and resources change over time in European societies and institutions?
- How did technology contribute to conceptions of development and sustainability and the emergence of forestry and water politics, agricultural development, biofuels and green technologies?
Meetings and activities
- Workshop I: Technology, natural resources and crises in the past and present of Europe and beyond (St. Petersburg, Russia, October 2016).
The workshop hosted about 40 participants from the USA, Russia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Hungary, and other countries. See program.
- Workshop II: Technology, natural resources and crises in the past and present of Europe and beyond II (Aarhus, Denmark, May 2017).
Workshop Program Workshop Report Workshop Website
- Stringed sessions at the 8th Tensions of Europe Conference in Athens (September 2017). See session program.
- Writing workshop “Challenging Europe: Technology, environment and the quest for resource security” (KTH Stockholm, 13-15 June 2018).
The workshop hosted 17 participants from 8 countries, who submitted and discussed 16 manuscripts and comments to them and decided after intensive discussion on the plan to develop three special issues for different reviewed journals.
- EURES Kick-off Workshop “Perceptions and constructions of resources, resource crises and resource futures: looking at the Arctic and other spaces” (Aarhus University, 8-9 November 2018). Final program Kick-off Workshop Aarhus.
The workshop hosted 31 participants from 11 countries.
- EURES Workshop 2 “Economic development and environmental transformations in Europe extractive peripheries (16th-21th centuries)” (EHESS, Paris, 21 November 2018). Workshop Program
- Session at the 9th Tensions of Europe Conference in Luxemburg (July 2019) “Natural Resources in the Age of Mechanization and Digitalization: Technological Change, National Narratives and Transnational Connections”.
- EURES-GREASE Workshop “Resources, Infrastructures and the Anthropocene: Dialogues between the Global-North and the Global-South”,Caparica Campus, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Portugal, 18 - 20 September 2019.
- The Research Group will be organizer of the 10th Tensions of Europe Conference "Technology, Environment and Resources" at Aarhus University, Denmark, 29 June to 1 July 2022. Also this conference has been postponed by one year. Conference website.
- EURES final workshop “Global fat resources: Connecting themes, approaches and narratives, ca. 1850-2022”, University of Bergen, 23-24 May 2023. CfP (pdf).
Joint proposal writing led to the following international collaborative research network projects:
- GREASE project: Global Resources and Sustainability of European Modernization 1820-2020 (running 2018-2022).
- EurRes project: Challenging Europe: Technology, Environment and the Quest for Resource Security (running 2018-2023).
- Anna Åberg and Frank Veraart, Creating, Capturing and Circulating Commodities: The technology and politics of material resource flows, from the 19th century to the present, Special section in The Extractive Industries and Society 7:1 (2020), 1-67.
- Ole Sparenberg and Matthias Heymann, Resource challenges and constructions of scarcity in the 19th and 20th centuries, Special Issue in European Review of History 27:1-2 (2020), 243-369.
- John Martin and Christian Kehrt, Reconfiguring Nature, the Environment, Resource Security and the Limits of Expert Knowledge, Special issue Global Environment 13:3 (October 2020), pp. 512-658.
- Evelien de Hoop, Aarthi Sridhar, Claiton Marcio da Silva and Erik van der Vleuten, Historicising Entanglements: Science, Technology and Socio-Ecological Change in the Postcolonial Anthropocene, Special issue, Global Environment 15:2 (2022), pp. 190-397.
Selected overview papers:
- Matthias Heymann, Per Högselius, Elena Kochetkova, John Martin, Ole Sparenberg, Frank Veraart, Anna Åberg, Challenging Europe: Technology, Environment, and the Quest for Resource Security, Technology and Culture 61:1 (2020), 282-294.
- Per Högselius, The Historical dynamics of resource frontiers, NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin 28:2 (2020), 253-266.