German Historical Institute London

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The Best Ideas? Natures, Nations, and Collective Memory


1–3 December 2016

Conveners: Andreas Gestrich (German Historical Institute London), Frank Uekötter (University of Birmingham)
Venue: German Historical Institute London


Nature has served as a resource for the construction of national identities throughout the modern era. The relationship goes into both directions, as nationalisms have framed the appreciation of the natural environment. This conference discusses the nationalization of nature and the naturalization of nations in transnational perspective. With a broad range of case studies from Sweden to India, scholars explore how objects and events of nature became national icons and what this meant for nations and environments. Can we identify certain groups that typically played an important role in the construction of natural icons? Did national icons receive acclaim beyond borders? Can we identify differences in the construction of identities in Western countries and the colonial and post-colonial world? And how did the autonomous logic of the natural environment play out in these case studies? The conference explores paths towards what one might call an environmental history of nationalism.

There are a few places available to academics researching in this field. Please register your interest in attending by email to Carole Sterckx with your details by Friday 25 November 2016: sterckx(ghi)


Call for papers (PDF file)

Conference programme (PDF file)