Environmental humanities: a rethinking of landscape archaeology

Covered by this title a fruitful session was organised during the 4th international Landscape Archaeology Conference (LAC2016) in Uppsala, Sweden, 23-25 August 2016. Currently we are preparing a special issue in the journal International Review of Environmental History, with guest-editors Sjoerd Kluiving (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Kirsten Liden and Christina Fredengren (both Stockholm University, Sweden).

Lecture by Harm-Jan Pierik (Utrecht University) on the 24th August during LAC2016 in session B4: Environmental humanities: a rethinking of landscape archaeology? Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.

Lecture by Harm-Jan Pierik (Utrecht University) on the 24th August during LAC2016 in session B4: Environmental humanities: a rethinking of landscape archaeology? Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.

There has been an increasing archaeological interest in human-animal-nature relations and the material turn within archaeology has shifted focus from symbols and social construction to an acknowledgement of how things, places or even the agencies of land and water contribute to the shaping of relations. Parallel to this, the field of environmental humanities poses the question of how to work with the intermeshing of humans and their surroundings.

Environmental Humanities aims to invigorate current interdisciplinary research on the environment, in response to a growing interest around the world in the many questions that arise in this era of rapid environmental and social change. In this special issue we narrow the focus to environmental humanities and landscape.

The Environmental Humanities are an emerging interdisciplinary area of international research and teaching that addresses contemporary environmental challenges in a way that is historically, philosophically and culturally informed. Environmental Humanities explores questions such as: What are the historical relations between humans and landscapes? How do fiction and film shape our thinking about climate change? How did people react to floods in the seventeenth century? How do we compare different time scales in different disciplines?

These questions and many more are at the heart of the Environmental Humanities (EH) as well as Landscape Archaeology (LA). To take stock of the ways in which we interpret the term EH we propose in this session a rethinking of LA. Is the broad interdisciplinary arena of EH an acceleration of the process of integration that is central in LA? Can we envision that future developments, such as the discussion of the Anthropocene concept, are in fact demanding interdisciplinary collaborations such as EH and LA?

In this special issue that is in preparation for submission to the journal International Review of Environmental History we present researchers with a tradition of interdisciplinary research in geology and archaeology related to different perspectives of landscapes. How can the landscape concept be re-vitalised by taking a critical look at nature/culture relationships and benefit from moving beyond a social constructivist backing for landscape theory? We expect to publish this special issue in the International Review of Environmental History in September 2017.

Sjoerd Kluiving, 6 October 2016.

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