CALL FOR PAPERS
Workshop: Environmental Governance. Experiences, Knowledge, and Expectations since 1945
16.-17. September 2021 in Potsdam
Deadline: 28. Februar 2021
Nils Güttler, Chair for Science Studies, ETH Zürich
Laura Kaiser/ Thomas Lettang/ Rüdiger Graf, Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam
Ort: ZZF Potsdam
At the Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History in September, we will host a workshop on environmental governance in the second half of the 20th century. Contributors will examine how environmental governance emerged as a new field of knowledge in response to ecological and economic crises. Focusing on both state and non-state actors, the workshop asks how the tools of government have changed, thereby also interrogating broader narratives of deregulation and neoliberalization since the 1970s.
Environmental Governance. Experiences, Knowledge, and Expectations since 1945
The use of natural resources has always required knowledge about their properties. Their usage has been tied to specific political power constellations and practices of governance that changed over time and affected the production of knowledge about natural resources. Conceptualized this way, the „politics of nature“ (Frank Zelko) is as old as politics itself. “The environment“, however, only emerged as an object of knowledge and a policy field in industrial societies after the Second World War, generating new forms and forums of knowledge production about the world surrounding us and often putting the state at centre stage as an agent of regulation. While “the environment” constituted a new field of knowledge and experience, the formulation and implementation of policies differed from the ideal type of rationalistic policy-making that simply demands for the transmission of scientific solutions to political power brokers. Environmental governance itself became an object of theorization and questions about the proper instruments of how to best intervene into eco-systems and human environmental behaviour were contested scientifically as much as politically. Since the Second World War, the scope of environmental governance has also expanded both spatially and temporally, posing new challenges for environmental policy: from allocating resources, over tackling environmental problems and defining areas of nature conservation, to building, maintaining, and combating infrastructure projects, the interplay of environment and industrial society have been conceptualized in increasingly global terms and longer time frames. Changing political modes of governance have only been studied tentatively for environmental politics in the 20th century, while (master) narratives under such umbrella terms as Keynesianism or Neoliberalism have been discussed more intensively by political and social scientists as well as historians for developments in economic or social policy.
As new political and scientific interests clustered around “the environment”, the workshop concentrates on the relation between knowledge production and environmental governance with particular interest in the history of practices. Which experiences and expectations engendered which forms of environmental knowledge and how did they translate into politics? Over the course of the 20th Century and, particularly since the post-war era, policy-makers have increasingly relied on scientific expertise and environmental policy forms a paradigm case for this scientization of politics. How did state bureaucrats, advisory boards, and think tanks but also, environmental activists, members of non-governmental organizations, freelancing professionals as well as scientists pertaining to independent institutes claim environmental expertise? How did their practices of knowledge production and communication about environmental risks, environmental policy planning, future developments of consumer and business behaviour as well as experiences with environmental regulation change over time? And which forms of environmental governance did they develop and advocate? These questions are of particular interest, as the expansion of the environmental management state occurred mainly since the 1970s, that is in the same period when the state’s capacity to regulate and intervene into economy and society was increasingly called into question.
Environmental governance is, thus, deeply entangled with the political challenges and transformations since the 1970s. Expecting ecological catastrophes (resource exhaustion, Waldsterben, excessive waste, pollution or climate change) while experiencing prolonged economic crises, policymakers, politicians, and environmental experts had to grapple with the seemingly contradictory goals of economic growth and environmental protection, focusing on both industrial production and consumption as fields of regulation. While the end of Keynesianism and traditional command-and-control-regulation is commonly supposed to have given rise to ideas of deregulation and economization, we invite papers looking at concrete interactions of environmental expertise and policy-making in order to scrutinize and challenge these broad concepts as well as historiographical narratives they embody. By discussing the (re-)regulation of “the environment” and its often contradictory developments with a broader temporal view over the second half of the 20th century, we hope to contribute to a better understanding of the practices of knowledge production and governance in general.
Possible themes and questions could include:
- the conceptualization of the “environment” as a field of political intervention
- the translation of environmental knowledge into policy designs by scientists, governmental agents and activists
- expert networks in processes of environmental governance and the role of “applied” ecology in administrations and state institutions
- the role of non-governmental and civil society organizations in the participation of governance processes and formulation of environmental policies
- infrastructures and “large technological systems”, as sites of environmental knowledge production
- evaluation of environmental policy instruments
- the importance of economic instruments for environmental governance
- The significance of international organizations and networks for the dissemination of environmental knowledge and policies
We invite scholars interested in presenting a paper to send a brief abstract of 250-300 words together with a short CV to Thomas Lettang (lettang [at] zzf-potsdam.de) and Laura Kaiser (kaiser [at] zzf-potsdam.de) by February 28, 2021. Participants will be notified by mid-March. If the Corona regulations allow us to meet in person, we will cover the costs of travel and accommodation.
E-Mail: lettang [at] zzf-potsdam.de
E-Mail: kaiser [at] zzf-potsdam.de