Wilko Graf von Hardenberg

Senior Research Scholar (Sep 2015-Aug 2021)


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 focuses 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.


Baselining Nature


Measuring the Earth: A Digital Repository for the History of Modern Geodesy


The Art of Judgement


Understanding the Anthropocene: The Level of the Sea


No projects were found for this scholar.

Selected Publications

Kelly, M., Leal, C., Wakild, E., & Hardenberg, W. G. v. (2017). Introduction. In W. G. v. Hardenberg, M. Kelly, C. Leal, & E. Wakild (Eds.), The nature state: rethinking the history of conservation (pp. 1-15). London: Routledge.

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Hardenberg, W. G. v. (2017). Another way to preserve: hunting bans, biosecurity and the brown bear in Italy, 1930-60. In W. G. v. Hardenberg, M. Kelly, C. Leal, & E. Wakild (Eds.), The nature state: rethinking the history of conservation (pp. 55…

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Hardenberg, W. G. v. (2017). L’altra faccia della montagna: tutela della natura, turismo e modernizzazione. Zapruder, 43, 56-69.

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Coulter, K., & Hardenberg, W. G. v. (2017). Cultivating the spirit of the commons in environmental history: digital communities and collections. In J. Thorpe, S. Rutherford, & L. A. Sandberg (Eds.), Methodological challenges in nature…

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Books and Media



Shifting Baselines, Altered Horizons: Politics, Practice, and Knowledge in Environmental Science and Policy


Point Zero. The Mean Sea-level in Practice, Science, and Diplomacy