Humans and Nature in the Mediterranean Landscape

Humans and Nature in the Mediterranean Landscape

Keynote Speaker: Nükhet Varlık (Rutgers University-Newark)

May 30-31, 2023
Central European University, Vienna

The consequences of global warming, pandemics, and ecological catastrophes serve as painful reminders of the contingency of human history on its natural environment. These issues have provided a forceful impetus to the study of history with environmental considerations in mind, leading to what scholars coined as an ecological turn. Since Fernand Braudel, several conceptualizations of the Mediterranean and its surroundings as a subject of historical research have emphasized how common patterns of climate, geography, flora, and fauna have given rise to shared models of ecology, agriculture, and social organization. Subsequently, environmental history, as well as various approaches centering on the environment in several other disciplines, has inspired scholars working on a broad range of topics related to the history of the Mediterranean and led to the emergence of various perspectives on the problems of nature, landscape, sustainability, environment, and ecology. We would like to highlight the broad variety of approaches to these topics and show that themes of nature, environment, and ecology are not only a concern of environmental historians, but they could also serve as shared spaces of encounter between scholars arriving from an array of backgrounds and disciplines. We also hope to grope toward a conceptualization of the relations between humans and nature, which complements the agricultural and rural focus of the discipline with a thematization of urban landscapes and spaces as parts of ecologies.

Organizing Committee

Osman Kocabal (MA Student, Department of History)
Emy Merin Joy (PhD Student, Medieval Studies)
Janos Galamb (PhD Student, Medieval Studies)

Conference program

Tuesday, May 30
Room: D001

10:00-10:15: Opening remarks

Brett Wilson (CEU, Director of CEMS)
Osman Kocabal, Emy Joy, Janos Galamb (CEU, Organizing Committee)

10:15-11:30: Session I: Pandemics, Ecocide and Natural Catastrophes

Chair: Nükhet Varlık (Rutgers University-Newark)

Yana Georgakieva (Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski), Plague and remedies according to a few manuscripts preserved in the fund of the Oriental Department of St. St. Cyril and Methodius National Library

Andrew McNey (University of Oxford), Ecocide in Late Antiquity: Environmental Spoliation and Human Resilience in the Negev

Maha Shawki (American University of Cairo), How Plagues Affected Mamluk Scholars?

11:30-11.45: Coffee break

11:45-13:00: Session II: Movement, Agriculture and Labor across the Mediterranean

Chair: Onur İnal (University of Vienna)

Ahmed Kamal (Centre of Documentation of Islamic and Coptic Antiquities), Agricultural partnership in medieval Egypt (online presentation)

Zohrab Gevorgyan (American University of Armenia; Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia), Migration of labor and professions in the Mediterranean Sea. The Example of Cilician Armenia

Zeynep Akçakaya (Sabancı University), Victorious Çiftliks, Reign of Sheep, Expansionist Floods: Revisiting the 'Çiftlik Debate' from 19th Century Mihaliç Countryside

13:00-14.30: Lunch break

14:30-15:45: Session III: Reception of Nature in Philosophy and Written Sources from the Mediterranean World

Chair: György Geréby (CEU)

Gaetano Longo (CEU), Plotinus's Neoplatonism; Plotinus's conception of nature

Sebastian Marshall (University of Cambridge), "Savage, yet classic, picturesqueness": Visions of Greek Woodland in Victorian Illustrated Travelogues (online presentation)

Enver Ali Akova (Koç University), Seferis at Ephesus, Erhat at Troy: Asia Minor in George Seferis and Azra Erhat (online presentation)

15:45-16:00: Coffee break

16:00-17.30: Keynote lecture

Nükhet Varlık (Rutgers University-Newark), Ecological Transformations in the Early Modern Mediterranean: Humans and the Environment

18.00: Dinner

Wednesday, May 31
Room: D001

10:00-11.15: Session IV: Mediterranean Landscapes, Water, and Modernization

Chair: Yektan Türkyılmaz (CEU)

Atdhe Thaçi (İbn Haldun University), The Malisor : mountains and mountaineers of North Albania at the end of the 19th century

Vangelis Maladakis (Aristotle University of Thessalonike), Mount Athos and the water resources: Formulating hydraulic landscapes in Northern Greece

Ebru Erginbaş (Brown University), Back to Nature Before Parting: Karl Ambros Bernard (1808-1844), Modernization of Ottoman Medicine and Hydro-tourism (online presentation)

11:15-11:30: Coffee break

11:30-12:45: Session V: Representations of Nature in Religious Discourses

Chair: Brett Wilson (CEU)

Dimitrios K. Lamprakis (University of Crete), Climate Catastrophes, Morality Plays and Punishment Stories: The palimpsest of human collective unconscious in Islamic myths

Chiara Bach (Johannes Guttenberg University), The relation between Nature, Divinity, and Gender in the Alexiad of Anna Komnene

Rosie Thomas-Boulgakova (University of Oxford), Byzantine attitudes to the natural world through the lens of hymnography (online presentation)

12:45-14.30: Lunch break

14:30-15:45: Session VI: Natural Limits of Empires and Warfare

Chair: Tolga Esmer (CEU)

Osman Yüksel Özdemir (CEU), Depicting Change Through Urban Landscape: Sasanid Occupation of Jerusalem in 614 C.E.

Bilal Hamza Erbaş (University of Szeged), Ottoman Expedition Diaries for Environmental and Climate History: Mehmed III's 1596 Expedition

Furkan Işın (McGill University), "A Slight Earthquake Occurred": Ottoman Conquest of the Middle East and Environmental History

15:45-16:00: Coffee break

16:00-16:40: Film screening

Partridge Nation,
produced and directed by Savaş Boyraz (Stockholm University of Arts)
Preceded by Savaş Boyraz's presentation: The Eye of the Mountain