More than the Human Past. Historians, Eco-history and Environmental Humanities

Meer dan menselijk verleden. Historici, eco-geschiedenis en environmental humanities.

A short evaluation of the EHC-KNHG congress November 19, 2020

The EHC is proud that it hosted the large and very inspiring, annual congress of the Royal Netherlands Historical Society (KNHG) on November 19. It was a full day congress (100 % online and thus with very low carbon dioxide costs), filled with great presentations about a variety of subjects. We welcomed participants from all over the Netherlands and most universities were well-represented, and even some from abroad. This was realized partly due the online set-up. In each session we strived to have a dialogue between several approaches in Environmental Humanities, like environmental history, eco-criticism (literature) and social and natural sciences.

The opening lectures focused on the theme water. Historian Tim Soens from Antwerp University showed how we can apply lessons learned from past floodings and epidemics to our modern COVID-19 policies. Tim is the author of many studies on natural disasters, in particular on flooding. Literature specialist Katie Ritson from the Rachel Carson Center for environmental studies in München reflected on literary and historical representations of wetland landscapes in the Netherlands and other countries, including Bangladesh in the famous works of Amitav Gosh. Other sessions hosted presentations and very engaged discussions on the history of climate change, human-animal relations and the long-term history of energy transitions.

All participants have contributed to making a reading file (Leesdossier). The reading file reflects the great interaction at this congress, presenters and other participants alike contributed a lot of information and insights. The reading file is a wonderful start for anyone who wants to prepare a course on Environmental Humanities or Environmental History.

More files on climate history, among others, have been announced by the KNHG. The very beautiful and informative PowerPoint video presentations of the keynote speakers remain available on You Tube.

Tim Soens, ‘We have never been vulnerable or Building Back Better. Inequality as common ground for Covid-19 and the history of flood disasters’:

Katie Ritson, ‘Sinking Stories. The Imagination of the Lowlands in the Anthropocene’:

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