The Social History and Anthropogenic Landscape of the Syr Darya River Basin: Exploring an Environmental Archive
Institute of History, Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan
In cooperation with Eberhard-Karls University of Tübingen and the Volkswagen Foundation
This international workshop will examine the potential of dialogue between different kinds of sources in researching the environmental history of Central Asia. How can sources such as archaeobotanical records, archival documents and oral history interviews speak to each other? What can such a dialogue contribute to our understanding of human interactions with the natural environment over longer and shorter time periods? While a number of scholars explore the human impact on Central Asian landscapes and vice versa, there has to date been no systematic discussion of the particular constellation of source material that the region presents. This symposium will offer the opportunity of critically engaging with a highly varied portfolio of sources, from folklore to court records, from climate records to artistic engagements with the environment. Key questions include:
How does the availability and accessibility of sources according to periods and topics shape our understanding of environmental history in the region?
Do natural science methods and technologies such as remote sensing challenge or confirm the outlook of more conventional historical sources?
What kind of lens do official state and Party archives provide on human interaction with the environment? How can such documents be related to less official forms of documentation and commemoration?
How do administrative and literary sources reflect the scientific discourses of their time, and vice versa?
We invite a broad range of papers addressing these issues, in relation to studies of land and water use, religious imperatives in communicating and interacting with non-humans, and people’s experience of natural events such as drought, earthquakes or floods. We further welcome papers addressing innovation and changing practices in e.g. forestry, mining, pastoralism, agriculture or urban waste management. Contributions exploring the history of the Syr Darya basin are particularly encouraged. Papers should clearly discuss the potential and limitations of the kind of data they engage with.
This workshop aims to produce a special issue, preferably in a bilingual (Russian-English) journal. The symposium is funded and organized by the Volkswagen Foundation project: ‘Social Life of a River: environmental histories, social worlds and conflict resolution along the Naryn-Syr Darya.’ Support for travel and accommodation expenses will be offered to a number of scholars: please specify your financial support needs when applying.
How to apply
Submissions of a 300 word abstract (title, description of topic, methodology, key questions and main findings) and short biographic statements can be made by 15th December. For all correspondence and further information, please contact Professor Adham Ashirov (email@example.com, in Russian) or Aibek Samakov (firstname.lastname@example.org,
in English or Russian).