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Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies URPP Asia and Europe (2006–2017)

The Environment and Global History: Humans as Biological and Geological Agents

Workshop, October 26, 2016

With Dr. Ryan Tucker Jones (University of Auckland)


Fynn Holm and Raphael Studer


Department of History and URPP Asia and Europe


Room SOE E-1, Schönberggasse 11, 8001 Zürich


When we think of global history, we usually focus on interactions among humans, be it on an empire/nation-state level or in a transnational network. But as is well known at least since the seminal works “The Columbian Exchange” and “Ecological Imperialism” by Alfred W. Crosby, Jr., humans have also willingly and more often unwillingly influenced the environment, as much as our societies have been shaped by it.

In this seminar we want discuss how “environmental history” and “global history” can be combined and what new perspectives such a framework could offer for our historical work. We are very happy to announce the participation of Dr. Ryan Tucker Jones whose fascinating book “Empire of Extinction” on Russian expansion in the North Pacific has highlighted the devastating effects such large-scale imperial endeavors had on local eco-systems.

We will first discuss together the pre-circulated paper Chakrabarty’s The Climate of History. Afterwards PhD students will have the opportunity to present their own work followed by a discussion. There is also the opportunity for more informal discussions during lunch and dinner.  


  • Chakrabarty, Dipesh. The Climate of History: Four Theses. Critical Inquiry 35 (Winter 2009): 197-222.