In German history, the subject has undoubtedly a long pedigree. It has, however, far broader implications. Environmentalists worldwide point out the strategic importance of woods, often conceived as part of no-yet-socialized ‘nature,’ to be defended from unrestrained exploitation and encroachment. On the other hand, researchers from a variety of perspectives have pointed out that deforestation and desertification are not always real, so that one needs to look closely into afforestation policies, their ideological dimensions and less noticeable side-effects. Cultivating woods and forests has been shown to form part of both conservation and intensified exploitation of natural resources, of processes of state and nation-building as well as of colonial policies.
We seek contributions offering a fresh look at the history of woods and forests, with special attention to their social embeddedness, as well as to their entanglements with national, imperial and colonial histories. The German Wald was often imagined as the heart of national identity, but it was also an export item – as Wille und Vorstellung, as a set of conceptions and techniques. We would especially welcome studies of its wooden history in Israel and Palestine and the Middle East, with a special reference to its entanglement with German traditions and imperial designs.
This calls for a variety of approaches – from environmental through political to cultural history, from economic to imperial history.
We invite proposals for individual or co-authored papers on topics sketched above. Scholars are invited to explore some of the following issue:
- How were natural woods demarcated from artificial interventions? What was conceived as ancient, worthy of preservation, and how modern was it?
- Which groups, communities, classes, political movement were involved in attempts to control and appropriate woods and forest?
- How did conceptions of woods and forest travel across regions and political spaces, how were they appropriated locally?
- What role did images of endangered environments and especially forests play? How did they change?
- Woods and forests were often conceived in opposition to other types of landscapes – what were they?
The Yearbook publishes contributions in English and German.
Proposal should include a brief description, c. 500 words long, of the paper and explain its relevance to the Yearbook’s theme.
By September 1, 2021: Send 500-word proposal and short bios to The Minerva Institute for German History firstname.lastname@example.org.
Late October 2021: Decision notification from editors
January 31, 2022: Full manuscripts due for editorial and peer review
Gadi Algazi, Roii Ball, Sagi Schaefer, editors