CALL FOR PAPERS – Circulating Waters: Water – Food – Energy

The European Society for Environmental History (ESEH) is pleased to invite proposals for sessions, roundtables, papers, posters and other, more experimental forms of communicating scholarship for its seventh biennial conference in Munich, Germany.  The conference will be hosted and organized by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society (RCC) and held at LMU Munich (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München) between the 20th and 24th of August 2013.  Situated in close proximity to lakes and mountains, Munich is known for its diversity of landscape, its environmental initiatives, its strong academic institutions, its cultural heritage and history, as well as its food and drink, and exceptionally high quality of life.

ESEH conferences occur biennially.  ‘Biennial’ is a term associated in particular with botany.  Most plants are annuals or perennials.  But a biennial flowers every two years, following a period of dormancy – just like our Society.  Though some biennial plants are merely flowers, others are edible.  Thinking about biennial vegetables such as carrots and parsley focuses our intellectual appetites on the conference theme of ‘Circulating Natures: Water-Food-Energy’.  We wish, of course, to attract high-quality scholarship and to tap into intellectual energy-flows related to all aspects of the blooming field of environmental history.  At the same time, we specifically encourage proposals related to ‘Circulating Natures’.  While always situated locally, nature also circulates regionally and globally through the movement of natural resources, products, people and non-human biota.  What happens in – and comes from – one part of the world can have profound effects on other, often distant places.  We wish to explore this theme of circulation – which is of basic importance to the multifaceted relationships of humans with the rest of nature at different times and in diverse places – with specific reference to the three, often interrelated, subjects of ‘Water, Food, and Energy’.

The following are just a few examples of potential topics and themes that explore the theme of ‘Circulating Natures: Water-Food-Energy’ from the diverse perspectives of environmental history:


  • Water resources and their deployment
  • Icebergs, glaciers, permafrost and snow cover in changing climate
  • Irrigation and salination as environmental problems
  • Fish, fisheries and fishing (freshwater and saltwater)
  • Water pollution and water treatment
  • Water-based recreational pursuits
  • Flooding, drought and climate change


  • Environmental impacts of agricultural practices and food industries
  • Politics of food production and consumption
  • Food and sensory history
  • Food, terroir and sense of place
  • Food, environment and advertising
  • Culinary choices and eco-activism
  • Animal husbandry and agricultural history
  • Famines, harvest failures and malnutrition


  • Travel, tourism and the fossil fuel economy
  • Oil, gas, coal and nuclear industries
  • Energy disasters: oil spills, strip mining and nuclear accidents
  • ‘Green’ energy: harnessing the sun, wind and waves
  • Greening’ of the energy sector

However, we have no desire to be prescriptive.  The omnivorous Program Committee welcomes contributions that address any period of time or any part of the world.  Not least, we encourage scholars working on the pre-modern era and ancient times to submit proposals. In keeping with a venerable tradition in the field of environmental history, the conference is open to scholars from all disciplines and backgrounds.  In particular, we hope to see a large number of submissions from graduate students and early career scholars.  The conference language is English.  Submissions in other languages cannot be accepted.

Deadline for submissions: 15 September 2012

All proposals should be submitted through our online submission system
, which will be open from 15 May 2012.  The Program Committee will not accept hard copy submissions or e-mail submissions.

Session proposals will normally consist of three papers of no more than 20 minutes each (maximum number and length: four papers of 15 minutes each). All sessions must conclude after 90 minutes.  Session proposals should include the following information: a title; a session abstract of 200-400 words; a named chair (you are strongly advised to secure the commitment of a chair in advance of submitting your proposal); a named commentator (optional); a list of contributors and (where relevant) individual paper titles (or indication of contribution); individual paper/contribution abstracts of 200-400 words; and a short biography (200-400 words) for each contributor (excluding the chair).

Proposals for roundtable discussion can also involve up to four participants in addition to a commentator.  Roundtable proposals should provide the same information as Session proposals.

Applicants may also propose individual papers that will be combined into sessions of three to four papers if accepted.  However, prospective applicants should be aware that the Program Committee actively prefers submissions for complete sessions because of the likelihood of greater thematic coherence.

Posters will be on display in a designated exhibition space during the conference, and authors will be available at their posters during a timetabled poster session. Poster proposals should include an abstract of 200-400 words and a short biography (200-400 words).

The Program Committee is also eager to receive proposals that depart from the standard conference format.  We positively welcome new ways of communicating research findings and alternative formats that involve a more interactive element, along with a higher level of audience involvement, than conventional sessions.  Some panels, for example, could take the form of a location-specific outdoor seminar involving the production/preparation and consumption of food.  Or, those interested in organizing workshop sessions on, for example, teaching could submit proposals for an experimental panel.  Please note that any “out of the box” organization for unique locations, etc. must be undertaken by the panel organiser – not the local organizing committee.

All proposals will be reviewed by a Program Committee composed of: Inês Amorim (University of Porto, Portugal); Marcus Hall (University of Zürich, Switzerland); Arielle Helmick (RCC/LMU: vice chair); Dolly Jørgensen (Umea University, Sweden); Andrea Kiss (University of Szeged, Hungary); Timo Myllyntaus (Turku University, Finland); and Peter Coates (University of Bristol, UK: committee chair).

The Committee will reach its decisions by 31 December 2012.

For more information, and to submit a panel, paper or poster proposal, please visit the conference website:

For more information on the ESEH, please visit, and for the RCC, please visit