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Soliciting syllabus suggestions: Russian Environmental History
Category: Member Blogs
Tags: Syllabus

Dear all, 

Here goes: I am preparing my syllabus for my course "Explorations in Russian Environmental History" and I figured I would tap the collective wisdom of the network to solicit reading suggestions! 

Also, can anyone recommend to me English-language online (or not) resources that students might use as a body of primary sources? For example, I was thinking of using the Russian Conservation News archived on as a body of sources through which to explore conservation in the 1990s.

These are the themes I am currently intending to engage in our 16 week semester, but have yet to decide on all the readings: 

Mother Earth: Folklore & Animals 


Environment & Empire (Empire of Extinction, Caucasus, Steppe); 

Environment & Nationalism; 

Soviet Transformations; 

Nuclear (Chernobyl, Plutopia); 

Water & Central Asia (more general? just Aral Sea case study?);


Conservation movements (Soviet; Lake Baikal; 1990s) 

I am especially interested in environmental history from earlier periods. But I have a concrete modern question: What would people recommend to get at Oil & environmental history? 

I am grateful for any and all suggestions. The course readings will all be in English but I'm interested in learning about recommendations in other languages.

So much new work has come out since the last time I taught it. I've already assigned students to buy the following books: Jones, Empire of Extinction; Moon, Plow that Broke the Steppe; Ely, This Meager Nature; Brown, Plutopia; and Josephson et al, The Environmental History of Russia. That is already expensive for students so I won't assign any more complete monographs, but I would love to hear what articles/topics the members here would suggest. 

If you would like to offer a suggestion, please respond here or email me at emonahan-at-unm-dot-edu if you feel shy (but surely there are others interested in this, too, so don't be shy). Thank you for sharing your thoughts! (You can view my previous syllabus here)

Happy New Year, 

Dr. Erika Monahan

Assistant Professor of History
University of New Mexico
Category: Member Blogs
Tags: Projects Contemporary History

Contemporary environmental history of the Soviet Union and the successor states, 1970-2000. Ecological globalization and regional dynamic

This cooperative Franco-German project in the field of (post) Soviet contemporary environmental history will move beyond national borders in terms of both its research and its organization.

In its research, the project will analyze the sometimes tumultuous processes associated with the ecologization and de-ecologization of politics and society in the last three decades of the 20th century. The individual studies, with their overlapping global and regional historical perspectives, will contribute to a more in-depth analysis of a) the reciprocity within processes of cross-border interaction, b) the formative powers of centralized state politics, and c) practical activities at the regional level. In doing so, they will provide an innovative and highly insightful perspective on the contemporary “East Side Story” of global environmental history.

The project has five primary research goals:

  1. To look more closely at the social importance and scope of environmental politics and environmental awareness by examining the role of political ecology in the late Soviet and post-Soviet eras (= ecological structural change of environmentalism)
  2.  To determine the role played by the Soviet Union and its successor states in global environmental history by analyzing cross-bloc interactions and global institutions (= ecological globalization)
  3. To re-conceptualize the collapse of the Soviet Union and the post-communist transformation by questioning conventional periodization and characterizations from an environmental history perspective (= reconceptualization of late Soviet and post-Soviet history)
  4.  To gain new insights into the changing dynamics of power during this period by studying Russian, Siberian, Central Asian, Caucasian, and Baltic border regions and domestic contexts (= regional ecological dynamics and the reconfiguration of power and space)
  5.  To underscore the socio-political relevance of environmental history scholarship for the post-Soviet states by historicizing current environmental problems and ecological debates (= history of current ecological issues).

Furthermore, the project aims to create a Tübingen – Regensburg – Paris research triangle with a strong international network and innovative research program that can become a gravitational center for (East) European environmental history. Joint conferences, workshops, archival research, and publications will productively bundle together German and French scholarly resources.

The Project Managers are:

Prof. Dr. Klaus Gestwa (Universität Tübingen)

Dr. Melanie Arndt (IOS Regensburg)

Dr. Marc Elie (Centre d'études des mondes russe, caucasien et centre- européen, CNRS-EHESS, Paris)


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