Sep 12-13, 2016
Resources and Economies of Knowledge in the Anthropocene


Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Boltzmannstraße 22, 14195 Berlin, Germany

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Organic and inorganic resources have provided and continue to provide the foundations for the development of human societies. Yet the processes and mechanisms through which knowledge about their use and exploitation co-evolved with societal praxis over centuries are very much context related. The production, dissemination and appropriation of knowledge about natural resources is interwoven with specific material cultures of a society or group, and with its political, economic and cultural conditions. 

The workshop will focus on the knowledge economies of natural resources during the past 200 years, a period defined by the chemist Paul J. Crutzen as the Anthropocene, an age in which human influence has become so dominant that it has surpassed the influence of geophysical and other natural forces on the earth’s geo-biological system. During the Anthropocene, there has been a significant increase on a global scale in the exploitation of natural resources, which has led to the present situation in which the loss and shortage of several natural resources has become evident. To fully understand how local practices and techniques make use of resources, or how economic and social institutions exploit them, the global conditions in which these resources are situated must first be investigated.

The workshop seeks to understand the mechanisms and asymmetrical forms in which knowledge economies of resources evolved during the Anthropocene, a period that in terms of history of politics, economics and culture is defined by colonialism, imperialism, decolonization, nationalism and neo-colonial environments. The workshop moreover seeks to understand how access to and transfer of knowledge has been related to transnational, international and global networks that are organized as economic enterprises and understood as so-called modernization processes. We assume that natural resources with agricultural, maritime or subterranean origins have their own particular histories: histories of the use and exploitation of particular resources; histories of the development of knowledge for defining, analyzing and describing a resource; and histories of the transformation of nature. Theoretically and methodologically, we are particularly interested in discussing how we can (re)write a global history of the Anthropocene when resources are the focus of our attention. We would like to discuss whether recent approaches in the fields of global history of knowledge and environmental history are especially promising in this regard, and how they have able to interact with approaches in the fields of economic or political history.

2016-09-12T09:30:00SAVE IN I-CAL 2016-09-12 09:30:00 2016-09-13 16:30:00 Resources and Economies of Knowledge in the Anthropocene Nadin Heé (FU Berlin)Franz Mauelshagen (IASS)Helge Wendt Nadin Heé (FU Berlin)Franz Mauelshagen (IASS)Helge Wendt Europe/Berlin public