In the long history of political economy, natural resources have been considered as a part of the environment that people can extract and exploit. The general assumption is that we do not make natural resources - we gather them. Wood, water, coal, iron, oil, hydro-electricity, uranium and, today, energy of the wind and sun are considered as passive components of nature. In the late 19th century environmentalism and the science of economics, the idea that natural resources such as coal were limited and non-renewable became the main concern. However, new needs, and technologies changed the definition of natural resources during the 20th century. Complex relations between resources, labour, and power – between extraction, production, and the state – are coming to the forefront of political debates and historical studies. of between In the last two decades, environmental history and history of sciences have pointed out the making of natural resources as the force that control definitions and ontologies of such products. Natural resources are the results of historically specific practices of laboratory techniques, instruments, methods of observing, modes of calculating, regimes of classification, but also of politics of energy and market practices. By emphasizing the cultural, social, economic and scientific constructions, social scientists and history encourage a critical debate about the consumption of nature in our modern societies.
This block seminar serves as an introduction to the field of Environmental History, history of science and Science and Technology Studies from a interdisciplinary perspective. It is designed to give researchers an overview of the main issues, mapping the new territories in relations to questions pertaining to the studies of state, politics, law, economy and the environment.
The block seminar has three principal aims: (1) to provide researchers with a critical introduction to environmental issues ; (2) to encourage researchers to think beyond national and European boundaries and see, through science, expertise and technological studies, the interconnectedness of Europe and its global framework; (3) to invite researchers to address questions of ‘knowledge and power’.
The module will be taught with the active participation of researchers and Max Weber fellows, through keynotes, panels and round-tables over three days.