Stockholm July 19th, 2020
Dear members and friends of the ESEH,
I truly hope this finds you in good health and spirit. Since the last time many of us have met in Tallinn, the world has dramatically changed. The pandemic has deeply affected our personal and professional lives. All our meetings have been canceled, we had to switch to on distance teaching, research plans have to be changed, and we had to cope with the forced isolation and the proliferation of virtual meetings. Some of us may have dealt with COVID-19 in more direct and even dramatic ways, including myself. I do believe that, at least as a group, we can still consider ourselves quite privileged in comparison with so many others who have paid and still are paying a higher tool to this pandemic.
As a society dedicated to the study of the history of the environment, we are and should be on the frontline of any discussion on the socio-ecological relationships. Indeed, the pandemic is yet another proof of the intricacies of human societies and ecologies, often through relationships of exploitation and extraction rather than care and reproduction. Thereby, I hope that as a collective we will embrace the challenge and responsibility to reflect on the pandemic, on the socio-ecological relationships which brought us here, and on the possible alternatives.
With this message, I would like to share with you some information about the life of our society.
The 2021 ESEH conference – The uncertainty about the future is extremely high. I wish to thank warmly the Local Arrangement Committee who is working under such stressful circumstances. We have decided to plan the Bristol 2021 conference as it was scheduled, trusting that things will be better in a year from now. The call for participation (indeed, we are looking for not only papers but many other ways of sharing research and ideas) will be out very soon. However, in case of a major disruption of traveling, we are planning a fully digital conference; better be prepared. In such a difficult time, I call all of you to generously support the ESEH, both joining the society (or renewing your membership) and applying for the 2021 conference.
The work of the committees – As you know, the ESEH has a series of committees, working on a broad spectrum of themes. Since my election, I have created a few new committees working on Diversity and inclusivity, Sustainability, Teaching, and the History of the society. I would like to encourage all of you to make contact with the chairs of those committees in case you wish to contribute somehow to their work. It would be great if you have teaching tools to share, materials (including photos) for our archive, proposals to support diversity and sustainability in our society. The list of all committees is here: http://eseh.org/about-eseh/committees-and-councils/.
Please consider also to apply for hosting summer schools and the biannual conference and for the ESEH prizes. Again all the information is on our website.
Postcards from the post-pandemic world – I would like to invite all of you to send to the society (email@example.com) a postcard from a post-pandemic world. This a low-intensity project aiming to foster our collective (historically grounded) imagination on how the world might (should/will?) look like after the pandemic. One can include an image and a short paragraph, perhaps singling out a specific theme each of you considers crucial for the post-pandemic world. The idea is to gather and publish those postcards through the ESEH social media.
Ideas – If you have proposals and ideas for the society, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Notepad – Finally, on our website (http://eseh.org/resources/notepad-newsletter/), you will all the notepads of the society, published in Environment and History (by the way, please consider supporting this journal renewing the subscription or asking your library to do so). I hope the Notepad can be always a more crucial tool for our internal communication.
I stop here, thanking you for your patience with a perhaps too long message.
All the best to all of you and our society,
President of the European Society for Environmental History