St Andrews Article Prize 2017

The 2017 St Andrews Article Prize in European Environmental History was awarded to 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 the Journal for the History of Environment and Society, vol. 1, in 2016.

De Keyzer’s article makes a substantial contribution to the environmental history of pre-modern Europe through a sophisticated blend of social, economic and ecological history, based on an impressively diverse dataset. Her rigorously argued analyses addresses the culture of coping with potentially disastrous sand drifts in the Campine region, but will be insightful for any historian interested in ‘natural’ hazards and disasters, their associated cultures of resilience and related social structures irrespective of chronological era or region. The devised method of critically combining traditional archival sources with archaeological findings and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) studies has a potential to change the way we understand the history of the conversand belt region and the historical coping mechanisms concerning the hazard of shifting sands.

The prize committee has also decided to give two honorary mentions to Johanna Conterio for a fascinating insight into the construction of subtropical landscapes of health in Stalinist Russia in her article Inventing the Subtropics: An Environmental History of Sochi, 1928-1936 (in: Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 16:1, 2015), and to Chris Pearson for Between Instinct and Intelligence: Harnessing Police Dog Agency in Early Twentieth-Century Paris (in: Comparative Studies in Society and History 58(2), 2016), a compelling and theoretically laden case study of the introduction of police dogs into the French police force, that reaches out to animal history with the help sociology and psychology.

The 2017 St Andrews Article Prize Committee consisted of Kati Lindström (chair; University of Tartu/ KTH Royal Institute of Technology), Peter Coates (University of Bristol) and Péter Szabó (Czech Academy of Sciences).