Capitalism and the Environment: Concepts, Methodologies and Precedents for a New History

Monday 15 June 2015 at 9:30 AM

The occasion for the workshop is the establishment of a graduate field in environmental history and political economy at the University of Chicago. The main theme of the workshop will be the relation between environmental history and the history of capitalism, broadly construed. We also expect to dedicate considerable time to the related project of rethinking the priorities, methods, and periodization of early modern and modern history in light of the unfolding climate change crisis. Paul Cheney will convene this year's meeting in his role as faculty director of the University of Chicago's Center in Paris, inviting scholars from the US, the UK and Europe. In order to draw upon diverse national and regional expertise and perspectives, members of the history department will convene similar meetings in subsequent years at the University of Chicago's global centers in Beijing and New Delhi.


Coffee and Welcome 9:30-10 A.M. 

Session 1, World Ecology and World Systems 10:00-12:00 AM

·      Andreas Malm (Lund) In the Heat of the Past: Can we Write a History of Fossil Capital?

·      Christophe Bonneuil (CNRS) The World Ecology of the Great Acceleration: Combining Earth-Systems and World-Systems Perspectives

·      Comment: Venus Bivar (Washington University, Saint Louis)

Lunch 12:00-1:00

Session 2, Histories of Environmental Degradation 1:00-4:00 PM

·      Thomas Le Roux (EHESS) Capitalism and Industrial Pollution: the Great Shift, France 1750-1850

·      Tim Cooper (Exeter) Capitalism and the Antinomies of Everyday Environmentalism: The case of the Torrey Canyon

·      Fabien Locher (EHESS) Beyond private property ? Commons and Environment in the Cold War Era

·      Comment: Fredrik Albritton-Jonsson (University of Chicago)

Café Pause 

Session 3, Ideology and Critique 4:30-6:30 PM

·      Charles-François Mathis (Bordeaux) Thinking about Nature, Accepting Capitalism? Toward a Cultural History of Capitalist Visions of the Environment

·      Paul Warde (Cambridge) Histories of Blame. Categories and Culpability in the History of Capital and Environment

·      Comment: Ken Pomeranz (University of Chicago)