Wilko Graf von Hardenberg

Senior Research Scholar
Senior Research Scholars are established scholars as evidenced by significant publications and broad academic experience, the equivalent of a tenured university position (e.g. associate professor in North America). These scholars carry major responsibilities (up to 50% of their time) within their research unit, including representing the Director or Research Group Leader in his/her absence.
Department III
September 1, 2015 to August 31, 2018

At the core of my various research interests lies the desire to understand how nature has been historically perceived, appraised, and managed and how each of these aspects has affected the other two. Consequently I have worked on different facets of modern European environmental history, including the politics of fascist regimes, the history of access rights, and the preservation of iconic animal species in the Alps. Moreover, I have a thriving interest in the use of digital tools and methods in historical research.

My current research focusses on the intellectual history of the Anthropocene and, in general, of theories of anthropogenic environmental change. In the specific the research project looks at the development of the concept of mean sea-level and at the history of the different ways in which the level of the sea has been understood and interpreted in the modern age.

I hold an Italian Laurea in history (Università di Torino) and a PhD in geography (University of Cambridge). Immediately before coming to the MPIWG I was DAAD Visiting Professor of Environmental History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Previously I have been first a Carson Fellow and then the Digital Humanities Research Specialist at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich. I also was a post-doc, funded by the Autonomous Province of Trento, at the University of Trento, Italy, and a post-graduate fellow at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy.


Max Planck Institute for the History of Science 
Boltzmannstraße 22 
14195 Berlin