CfP: Rivers of Steppe Ukraine: an Environmental History

CfP: Rivers of Steppe Ukraine: an Environmental History


Rivers of Steppe Ukraine: an Environmental History Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, 11-12th September 2020

Ya. Novytskyi Zaporizhia Scientific Society is pleased to announce a conference on the environmental history of the rivers of Steppe Ukraine.

The conference is organized in partnership with the Historical Department of Zaporizhzhia National University and supported by the European Society for Environmental History. The conference will explore how the natural and physical characteristics of the river network in the steppe region have influenced human settlement and uses, and how the human occupation has, in turn, affected the ecology and environmental health of the river.

The steppe region of Ukraine is traditionally considered a low-water and arid region. However, it is here that the second and third largest rivers of Europe – Danube and Dnipro flow into the Black Sea, and human activity is tied to the water network as strong as possible. Water in the south of Ukraine is the economic, political, and social factor. Perhaps that is why the river network has undergone the most significant anthropogenic impact compared with other regions and has been subjected to ruthless exploitation. Rivers in the steppe influenced the settlement structure and economy of the local population, were the boundaries of states, contributed to the creation of the essential civilization centers that arose on the borders of rivers. All this has led to consumer attitudes towards rivers. If initially, the impact on the ecological integrity of the water network was usually local and insignificant, then from the 19th century onwards, humans switched to uncontrolled predatory exploitation.

Mass use of the rivers, which were valued mainly as sources of water, food, and transportation, had a destructive impact on natural landscapes. At first, it took the form of use of the rivers and their floodplains for cattle breeding, the establishment of ponds and dams on small rivers for mills, manufacturing of cloth, fishing, and industrial fish farming. With increasing population, anthropogenic influences increased as forest areas along the rivers were cut down to provide new settlements with timber, and reeds and vines were also used extensively, destroying many birds and animals homes. The industrialization of the region, namely the location of industrial enterprises, power plants, had a comprehensive impact on the aquatic ecosystem. Large rivers with enormous waterpower potential, which in socialist times became the subject for considerable changes in hydropower, irrigation, heavy and chemical industry, were particularly affected. One of the consequences of the inclusion of the river network in industrialization was artificial reservoirs and canals, which had a significant influence on the region’s history and nature because they are at the same time an influential economic factor, environmental disaster and even an element of modern geopolitics. The satellite of industrialization, urbanization, has created its urban hydrological consortia. All this led to the emergence of environmental movements related to the protection of the steppe Ukraine’s water network and became part of the state and local communities’ water policy.

These are the main issues to be discussed during the conference on the environmental history of Steppe Ukraine. There are no chronological restrictions on the participants’ reports. We encourage regional and comparative studies with the use of non-traditional methods of investigation. We want to invite scholars from the range of disciplines, including history, geography, environmental science, social science and others. One of our main hopes here is to extend an invitation to the community of historians and propose that they pay considerable and critical attention to this new site for research and its potential to change the methods and approaches of history. By bringing historians and social, geography scientists and others, we hope to foster new ways of looking at and talking about this historically, commercially, and aesthetically significant ecosystem.

The conference consists of plenary session and paper sessions. Papers have to be not more than 15 minutes each. At the end of each session, there will be sufficient time for general discussion. The working languages are Ukrainian and Russian.

There is no fee. Participants are responsible for their transportation to Zaporizhzhia and accommodation. The organizers will provide participants with food.

An excursion program is planed as well.

To take part in the conference, send your application to The application must contain a CV and brief abstract (no more than 200 words).

Contact person: Anna Olenenko Serhii Bilivnenko

The application DEADLINE is 15th AUGUST 2020.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email