In certain historical periods, the border regions of Central Europe were separated by an impenetrable state border, while at other times they were a virtually uniform area. But regardless of the border arrangement, they have always been connected by the environment. Thus, in the environment and the different approaches to it on both sides of the border were reflected differences in politics, economic interests and culture. Policies developed at the centre could not only contribute to the joint solution of environmental problems in the borderlands, they could also provoke cross-border ‘ecological wars.’ High-profile examples of the latter include the long-running dispute between the Czech Republic and Austria over the Temelín nuclear power plant in South Bohemia, the Slovak-Hungarian dispute over the Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Dams, and the recent Czech-Polish conflict over the Turów lignite mine in south-western Poland.
Nevertheless, relationships to the environment of the border regions were not only shaped by specific conflicts, but also by the everydayness associated with creating and maintaining cross-border infrastructure or a shared cross-border approach to the use of nature and its resources. Moreover, the natural environment of the border regions of Central Europe could also imply specific cultural meanings manifested in regional and national identities, some of which were shared on both sides of the border, while others were perceived differently. In the case of Central Europe, which intersects the West and East of the continent, research into the relationship between people and the environment across the borders of several countries makes it possible not only to form a transnational perspective, but also to critically re-evaluate simplistic stereotypes regarding the ecological West and the unecological East. Borderlands research in relation to environmental issues can serve as a laboratory for exploring the different paths between modern and postmodern values across various states, political regimes and discursive environments.
This issue of Střed/Centre will be devoted to articles analyzing issues related to the relationships of the environment and Central European border regions from the 19th century to the present day. Comparative and transnational approaches will be particularly welcome in this context.
Themes of potential contributions could include, for example:
- changes in the relationship of people to the environment in the border regions;
- the influence of agriculture and industry on the environment of the border regions;
- environmental conflicts between states and their impact on the border regions;
- cross-border nature conservation;
- cross-border cooperation in the management of natural disasters;
- tourism in the border regions.