Jan 25, 2018
Coal in the Early Modern History of Resources
- 17:00 to 18:30
- Premodern Conversations Series
- Helge Wendt
In the 19th century, coal became a foundational resource for the transformative process now labelled as industrialization. The use of this fossil fuel gained further importance during the 20th century, which has become one of the crucial factors in defining the era of the Anthropocene. However, the relevant transformations involving production chains, energy supplies, and combustible- dependent technologies started in the early modern period which might be thus termed the proto-Anthropocene. This longue durée perspective singles out various kinds of knowledge about mineral coal, which were generated and propagated across Europe throughout the Enlightenment. My presentation will explore a series of case-studies from mid-18th century Scotland, France and Saxony, to touch upon issues in the disciplines which today would be classified as chemistry, geology and geo-chemistry. Apart from taxonomies, I will analyze pre-modern debates on the extraction and usefulness of different types of coal within specific production fields. Ultimately, my research seeks to elaborate on the history of resources in the framework of the history of science and technology, to open up new discussions about long-term human impact on the planet Earth.
MPIWG, Harnackstraße 5, 14195 Berlin, Germany
Contact and Registration
Any questions you might have about this or further sessions can be addressed to Maria Avxentevskaya.
About This Series
Premodern Conversations is a monthly seminar on pre-modern and early-modern topics, aiming to offer researchers informal space to discuss their work-in-progress. We also hope to provide a convivial meeting place where pre-modernists and early-modernists could find fruitful connections across the intellectual breadth of the MPIWG.
Our sessions usually take place in Room V005, the seminar room of the Villa, Harnackstraße 5. If you have not visited us before, the Villa is 2 minutes walk from the back entrance of the MPIWG. The seminar room is on the ground floor on the right-hand side through the glass fire door. Just in case, please see the map attached.