Benelux countries

Regional representative

Prof. dr. Tim Soens
Centre for Urban History

University of Antwerp

Prinsstraat 13 (D313)
2000 Antwerp

ESEH Benelux Newsletter Summer 2018

 © Tim Soens, University of Antwerp (Belgium)

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

  1. Editorial 1
  2. ESEH Talinn 2019 Call for Papers. 2
  3. World Congress of Environmental History 2019 Florianopolis (Brazil) 2
  4. EURHO Rural History Conference Paris 2019: Call for Papers. 3
  5. Journal for the History of Environment and Society (JHES) 3
  6. Completed PhDs in Environmental History of the Low Countries. 4
  7. Recent Publications. 5
  8. Landschapscontactdag Picturale Landschappen 12 oktober 2018. 6
  9. More ESEH Benelux news. 7


1.    Editorial

 Some Environmental History News in the closing days of the Summer of 2018. The Summer was ‘exceptional’ once again, with drought and heath in many parts of Europe (and Asia and North America). At the same time, even the oldest parts of the arctic ice north of Greenland are fragmenting and disintegrating. The Arctic might be basically gone in a few decades, and Earth System Scientists have been issuing serious warnings that a series of interconnected processes might rapidly push the Earth towards an unprecedented and dangerous ‘hothouse’ state.

See the PNAS-article by Will Steffen and his colleagues published this month ( and the comment in The Guardian:

As environmental historians, these are interesting but also frightening times. Based on our understanding of the climate/society nexus in the past, we should more than ever engage in the Climate Change debate today…

Nevertheless, I wish you a pleasant Autumn, and see you next year at the ESEH-conference in beautiful Talinn (Estonia)?

The newsletter is free and very informal. All information should be sent to

In line with the European Privacy Rules, please let me know if you do not want to receive this Newsletter anymore!


2.    ESEH Talinn 2019 Call for Papers

From 21 till 25 August 2019 the 10th ESEH-conference will take place in Talinn (Estonia). The theme is: Boundaries in/of Environmental History.


The call for papers is currently open: (dead-line is Oktober 31st).

The Benelux is usually well represented on the ESEH conference (with no less than 20 papers in Zagreb in 2017), so do not hesitate to submit session proposals!


3.    World Congress of Environmental History 2019 Florianopolis (Brazil)

Talinn is not the only major Environmental History Conference in the summer of 2019: from 22 to 26 July, the 3rd World Congress of Environmental History will take place in the rather exotic Florianopolis in Brazil.

The theme of the conference is Convergences: The Global South and the Global North in the Era of Great Acceleration

The call for papers is currently open (dead-line September 10th 2018), see


4.    EURHO Rural History Conference Paris 2019: Call for Papers

And to finish the Call for Papers-section: the bi-annual European Rural History Conference, which also features many sessions on environmental history/landscape history/climate history, takes place from 10 to 13 September 2019 at the EHESS in Paris (France)

The call for papers is open until Oktober 15th 2018:

5.    Journal for the History of Environment and Society (JHES)

The third issue of the fully open-access JHES will appear in December 2018. This year, guest editors Arne Kaijser (KTH Stockholm) and Jan-Hendrik Meyer (Copenhagen/Potsdam) have prepared a special issue on: Nuclear Installations at the Border. Transnational connections and international implications. An Introduction.

Also check the second issue of the JHES: Recycling: The Industrial City and Its Surrounding Countryside, 1750 -1940 (Guest Editors: Laurent Herment and Thomas Le Roux)

JHES – which is subject to blind peer review – welcomes all contributions on environmental history as long as they develop a “social” (economic, political, cultural) approach on environmental issues in the past. Contributions in three languages (English, French and German) are welcome.

Submissions can be sent to

See the journal website:

6.    Completed PhDs in Environmental History of the Low Countries

Universiteit van Amsterdam, 8 June 2018: Janna Coomans : In Pursuit of a Healthy City. Sanitation and the Common Good in the Late Medieval Low Countries (supervisor: Guy Geltner).

  1. Namur, 2 February 2018 : Kevin Troch: “Ne pas grever l’avenir au bénéfice du présent”. Une histoire environnementale de l’extraction du charbon de la fin du 18e siècle à l’Entre-deux-guerres: un développement non soutenable. L’exemple du Couchant de Mons et du Valenciennois (supervisor : Isabelle Parmentier)

7.    Recent Publications

A small selection of a rich harvest of publications on the Environmental History of the Low Countries:



8.    Landschapscontactdag Picturale Landschappen 12 oktober 2018

Op vrijdag 12 oktober 2018 vindt te Sint-Martens-Latem de jaarlijkse Landschapscontdagdag plaats met als thema: ‘Picturale Landschappen’. Meer info op:

9.    More ESEH Benelux news

See the regional BENELUX pages on the official website of ESEH:

  • 20/07/2017: Special Issue Environment and History: Vol. 23 no. 3, August 2017:

A Global Comparison of Pre-Modern Institutions for Water-Management

Special Issue edited by Petra J.E.M. van Dam, Piet van Cruyningen and Milja van Tielhof

Conquest and Incorporation: Merging French-Style Central Government Practices with Local Water Management in Seventeenth-Century Maritime Flanders. Raphaël Morera

Sharing the Cost of Dike Maintenance in the South-Western Netherlands: Comparing ‘Calamitous Polders’ in Three ‘States’, 1715-1795. Piet van Cruyningen

Cooperation and Private Enterprise in Water Management in Iraq: Continuity and Change between the Sasanian and Early Islamic Periods (Sixth to Tenth Centuries). Michele Campopiano

The Micro-Politics of Water Management in Early Modern England: Regulation and Representation in Commissions of Sewers. John Emrys Morgan

Regional Planning in a Decentralised State: How Administrative Practices contributed to Consensus-Building in Sixteenth-Century Holland. Milja van Tielhof

‘Public Interest’ as a Basis for Early Modern State-Society Interactions: Water Control Projects in Qing China, 1750-1850. Wenkai He

  • ESEH Benelux Newsletter Summer 2017

 © Tim Soens, University of Antwerp (Belgium)

Table of Contents

  1. Editorial 1
  2. ESEH Zagreb 2017. 2
  3. Best article price for Maïka De Keyzer 3
  4. Journal for the History of Environment and Society (JHES) 3
  5. VU Environmental Humanities Center 4
  6. Urban History Conference Rome 2018: Call for papers. 5
  7. EURHO Rural History Conference Leuven 2017: Program.. 6
  8. Recent and Upcoming PhDs in Environmental History. 7
  9. Landschapscontactdag Grenzen. 8
  10. Hofstad. Experimenting with Urban Agriculture. 8
  11. More ESEH Benelux news. 8


1.     Editorial


Some Environmental History News just before Summer, a few days after the 2017 bi-annual conference of the European Society for Environmental History in Zagreb (Croatia), with an overview of the BENELUX-participants in this conference, and an announcement of the second issue of the Journal for the History of Environment and Society.

Enjoy the summer!

The newsletter is free and very informal. All information should be sent to


2.     ESEH Zagreb 2017

From 28 June till July 1st the ESEH-conference was taking place in Zagreb. The theme is: Natures in between. Environments in areas of contact among states, economic systems, cultures and religions.

The Benelux is well represented with no less than 20 papers, which together give a nice overview of the current research of Dutch and Belgian scholars active in the field:

  • Bosch, Toon (Open University): Conflict zones in flood relief? Comparing political and cultural dimensions of flood relief on two sides of the Belgium-Dutch border during and after the Meuse flood of 1925/26
  • De Bont, Raf (Maastricht): Masters of the Jungle – Co-producing ‘the Noble Savage’ and ‘Unspoiled Nature’ in the Belgian Congo
  • De Graef, Pieter (Antwerp): The resilient urban peasant? An inquiry into the coping mechanisms of Urban Agriculture in a Changing Urban landscape, Industrialising Belgium in the 19th century
  • De Keyzer, Maïka and Eline Van Onacker (Antwerpen-Utrecht): Peasants and Resilience to Environmental Challenges, a Comparative Approach
  • Ferdinant, Malcolm (KITLV Institute), Environmental Justice thought from postslavery and postcolonial societies of the Carribean
  • Hanaford, Matthew (Utrecht): Comparative Perspectives on Long-Run Resilience and Vulnerability to Climate Extremes in the Zambezi-Limpopo Region of Southeast Africa, 1505-1830
  • Lenders, Rob (Nijmegen): ‘Uulueseued!’: Changing Human-Wolf relationships in Medieval Europe
  • Milder, Stephen (Groningen): Radiation knows no boundaries, neither do wo: German opposition to the Fessenheim Reactor in the 1970s and today.
  • Mostert, Erik (Delft): Interest versus community: flood protection in the Great Ouse Basin, England, and in the Netherlands, between the early 19th and the mid 20th
  • Rolland, Jean-Noël (Montreal-Liège): Ermensul Usque Pervenit et Ipsum Fanum Destruxit…Charlemagne, the Annales Regni Francorum and the Famous Victory against the Saxons in 772
  • Schleper, Simone (Maastricht): Contested Expertise: Systems Ecology and International Policy-Making in the Environmental Age
  • Soens, Tim (Antwerp): Systemic transitions or vulnerable people? Pre-industrial Europe confronted with Natural Hazards and Environmental Instability
  • Steegen, Benjamin (Leuven): Losing Gandhi’s utopia out of sight: the village reconstruction organization.
  • Stuckens, Aurélie (Namur) and de Valeriola, Sébastien (Louvain): The impacts of fortifications on Flemish Cities’ Natural Environment and Urban Fabric (ca. 1280-1330)
  • Van de Grift, Liesbeth (Utrecht): Historicizing the ‘Greening of Europe’: a review of the State-of-the-Art and an Emerging Research Agenda.
  • Van de Grift, Liesbeth (Utrecht): Session: Adapting to Europe: Environmental NGOs and the Europeanization of Environmental Policy-Making in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • Van den Brink, Thomas (Wageningen): At the mercy of Global Trade dynamics: the Frisian Village Molkwerum, Extremely Vulnerable Yet Resilient
  • Van der Windt, Henny (Groningen): Natural History, Societal Future: Aligning Ecological, Policy and other Perspectives on the Dutch Wadden Sea.
  • Van Goethem, Thomas (Nijmegen): ATHENA – Access tool for data on historical ecology and environmental archeology (poster)
  • Van Onacker, Eline (Antwerp): Social Vulnerability and Social Structures in sixteenth-century Flanders: A Micro-level analysis of household grain shortage during the crisis of 1556/57
  • Van Roosbroeck, Filip (Amsterdam): Peasant Resilience and Cultures of Disaster: Rinderpest in the Eighteenth-Century Low Countries,
  • Wielman, Guus (Utrecht) and Rodenburg, Hans (Utrecht): The Europeanization of Greenpeace International: the case of the EC Unit (1987-1993)

Full program:



3.     Best article price for Maïka De Keyzer

At the ESEH conference a competition was taking place for the St Andrews Article Price for the best article in Environmental History published in 2015 or 2016. This price was won by Maïka De Keyzer for her article All we are is dust in the wind: The social causes of a “subculture of coping” in the late medieval coversand belt, published in JHES 2016/1. There were 38 submissions, so congratulations to Maïka!

for the article:

4.     Journal for the History of Environment and Society (JHES)

The second issue of the JHES is currently in print! As the first issue, it is full open-access, although a print version is available as well:

This second issue is the first thematic special issue in the collection: Recycling: The Industrial City and Its Surrounding Countryside, 1750 -1940


Guest Editors: Laurent Herment (CRH-CNRS-EHESS, France) and Thomas Le Roux (CRH-CNRS-EHESS, France)


Table of Contents

  1. Preface by the Editors.
  1. Introduction: Recycling: the industrial city and its surrounding countryside, 1750-1940


Laurent Herment and Thomas Le Roux, CRH-CNRS-EHESS, France

  1. Food from country to city, waste from city to country: an environmental symbiosis? Fertiliser improvement in 18th-century Flanders

Pieter De Graef, University of Antwerp, Belgium

  1. La ‘science des engrais’ et le monde agricole en France au dix-neuvième siècle

Sacha Tomic Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne IHMC, France

  1. Vidanges et fertilisants. Le cas de la poudrette parisienne au milieu du dix-neuvième siècle

Laurent Herment, CRH-CNRS-EHESS, France

  1. L’enquête de l’Institut International d’Agriculture sur la réutilisation des déchets et des résidus (1920-1922) ou qui gouverne l’agriculture ?

Niccolò Mignemi, École française de Rome, Italy.

JHES – which is subject to blind peer review – welcomes all contributions on environmental history as long as they develop a “social” (economic, political, cultural) approach on environmental issues in the past. Contributions in three languages (English, French and German) are welcome. Submissions: see

Submissions can be sent to


5.     VU Environmental Humanities Center

Fall 2016 saw the inauguration of the Environmental Humanities Center at the VU Amsterdam

Bringing together students, scholars, and members of the general public interested in humanities perspectives on the environment, the new Environmental Humanities Center at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam aims to foster an exchange of ideas. Grounded in the realization that today’s environmental crisis calls for an interdisciplinary approach, we wish to stimulate conversations among the humanities and the natural and social sciences.


Check upcoming activities at:


6.     Urban History Conference Rome 2018: Call for papers

From August 29 till September 2 2018 the next EAUH Urban History Conference is taking place in Rome. The theme is: Urban renewal and resilience. Cities in comparative perspective

The call for paper for individual paper proposals is now open, until 5 October 2017.




There are several sessions with topics on environmental history:

M04. Premodern Public Health: Comparing Cities 1250-1750
Janna Coomans, Jane Stevens Crawshaw, Claire Weeda

M06. The Engineered City: Engineering Design, Experience and Failure in Urban History, from the Middle Ages to 21st Century
Shane Ewen, Genevieve Massard-Guilbaud

M07. Natural Disasters and the Urban: Earthquakes, Floods and Great Fires in Early Modern Cities 1400-1800
Domenico Cecere, Matthew Davies, Mina Ishizu, Koichi Watanabe

M19. Cities – Regions – Hinterlands in the early modern and modern era
Sabine Barles, Dieter Schott

M20. Feeding the City: Comparative Histories of Urban Agriculture
Clare Griffiths, Tim Soens

M26. Imagining Resilient Cities: Comparative Historical Perspectives on “Resilience” from 1800 to the Present
Dorothee Brantz, Avinash Sharma

SS05. L’Eau dans Rénovation Urbaine de la Cité Islamique Médiéval (Xe–XIVe s.)
Maria Marcos Cobaleda, Dolores Villalba Sola

SS06. Golden Ages around the North Sea. Urban planning, Architecture and the Rise and Fall of Urban Systems 1100-1800
Jaap Evert Abrahamse, Heidi Deneweth

SS22. Urban Gardening: a Historical Perspective, c. 1700 – 2000
Ivaylo Nachev, Jill Steward


7.     EURHO Rural History Conference Leuven 2017: Program

From 11 till 14 September 2017 the EURHO Rural History Conference is taking place in Leuven.

The Program is on-line now:

Several sessions explicitly focus on environmental history:

  • Edible Gardens in Rural and Urban Contexts – practices, produce, gender and roles of garden cultivation.1650-1955 Panel organiser: Karin Hallgren
  • Commodity Networks: Cash Crops, Societies and Ecologies in a Global Perspective

Panel organiser: Friederike Scholten

  • Rural landscape transformations: analyzing land use/cover change with GIS

Panel organiser: Dries Claeys

  • “The Agrarian Industrialization in both sides of Atlantic Ocean during the Twentieth Century. A biophysical Perspective Panel organiser: Manuel González de Molina
  • Bioengineered communities : plant and animal improvement, agricultural landscapes’ transformation and the making of modern states, 1890-1962

Panel organiser: Tiago Saraiva

  • The Resilience and Decline of Urban Agriculture in European History
    Panel organiser: Tim Soens
  • Towards sustainable use of medicinal plants. Historical perspective on foraging, cultivation and use of medicinal plants in European countries
    Panel organiser: Vitalija Povilaityte-Petri
  • Climate, Agriculture and Society in Preindustrial Times
    Panel organiser: Chantal Camenisch
  • Sustaining the commons: historical and comparative perspective
    Panel organiser: Iain Robertson
  • Agricultural Landscapes in Medieval and Modern Colonial Contexts (12th-18th centuries). Written and Archaeological Evidence. Panel organiser: Félix Retamero
  • Exotic plants and products on the move. Transfer of plants, botanical and agricultural products and knowledge between new and old world, 17th – mid-20th centuries
    Panel organiser: Christine Fertig
  • Fertilisers in the long 19th century and beyond : Usage, commercialisation and production Panel organiser: Laurent Herment
  • From Peasant Studies to Environmental History: a Comparative Reflection about Theoretical Perspectives and Objects of Study in Rural History
    Panel organisers: Alba Díaz Geada and Mats Morell
  • Dark forests? Contesting and defining forms and uses of woodlands and forests (XVIII-XX c.) Panel organiser: Vittorio Tigrino
  • Agricultural Modernization and Forest Transition Panel organiser: Iñaki Iriarte-Goñi


  • The impact of weather and climate on agriculture and the countryside in Europe.

Panel organiser: James Bowen

8.     Recent and Upcoming PhDs in Environmental History

UUtrecht: Wednesday 6 September 2017 10:30 Academiegebouw, Domplein 29, Utrecht: Heleen Kole: “Inspraak of doorbraak? Participatie in het bestuur van twee waterschappen vóór 1800: Bunschoten en Mastenbroek”


UNamur: 1 september 2017 14:00 L.33: Alix Badot: L’impact des activités militaires sur les villes de la barrière. Approches environnementales (Warneton et Namur, milieu du XVIIIe siècle).

UWageningen: On 2 June 2017 Kostadis Papaioannou successfully defended his dissertation: ‘Force of Nature’ Climate Shocks, Food Crises and Conflict in Colonial Africa and Asia,1880-1960

RUGroningen: On 15 September 2016 Jeroen Zomer successfully defended his dissertation:

Landschap, ontginning en waterbeheersing van de kustvenen in Noordoost-Friesland, het Groninger Westerkwartier en Noord-Drenthe tijdens de middeleeuwen

9.     Landschapscontactdag Grenzen

Op vrijdag 29 september 2017 vindt te Wervik de jaarlijkse Landschapscontdagdag plaats met als thema: ‘Grenzen’. Meer info op:

10.Hofstad. Experimenting with Urban Agriculture

At the University of Antwerp, spring 2017 saw the launch of an educational experiment in Urban Agriculture: Tim Soens, Pieter De Graef, Reinoud Vermoesen and collaborators of the History Department, initiated three historical ‘urban’ fields: one 15th century, one 18th century, and one Second World War, in which they experiment with food producing, reflecting upon crops, methods, diseases, fertilization, and potential for urban food supply. While the project is now being tested with collaborators only, next year, the 3th year history students will be assigned to the project, from the planning till the harvest!

Follow the project on: (with a blog and photos)

11.More ESEH Benelux news

The regional BENELUX pages on the official website of ESEH have not been updated for quite a while, as the login was lacking. However, in the near future, I hope to use this webpage to distribute relevant news in between the newsletters.

So please check regularly:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email