A network of interdisciplinary scholars studying past climate change
Just days after a deep cold spell in Moscow broke and normal winter weather returned, an international group of scholars met there to discuss the topic of cold climatic conditions in Russian history at a conference sponsored by the Rachel Carson Center and the German Historical Institute. The meeting occurred at the Moscow branch of the German Historical Institute and was organized by Julia Herzberg, Ingrid Schierle, Andreas Renner, and Klaus Gestwa. With the goals of expanding Russian environmental history into the realm of climate history and of contemplating a specific climatic phenomenon characteristic of Russia (the cold), workshop participants engaged in wide-ranging approaches to the topic. Some interrogated the cold in Siberian identity formation and adaptation strategies (Svetlana Rafikova, Ekaterina Degal´tseva, Nataliia Rodigina). Others looked at the Arctic realms of Russia in particular and the way the cold shaped its exploration and development (Paul Josephson, David Saunders). Some scholars contemplated the influence of frozen conditions on Russian and Soviet science (Julia Lajus, Jonathan Oldfield, Denis J. B. Shaw, Erki Tammiksaar, Pey-Yi Chu), tourism (Aleksei Popov), gender identity (Aleksandr Anan´ev), and war (Aleksandr Kuz´minykh). Participants analyzed the influence of the especially difficult winters of 1917 and 1946-7 on transportation (Anthony Heywood) and survival strategies (Katarzyna Chimiak). Papers also examined real and perceived threats related to ice and snow such as avalanches (Marc Elie, Andy Bruno), the re-freezing of melted snow on nomads’ pastures (Ian Campbell), and the Russian abominable snowman (Carolin Roeder). Finally, a group of researchers considered the literary (Susanne Frank), cinematic (Oksana Bulgakova, Roman Mauer), and spiritual (J. P. Schovanec) implications of the frost, ice, and snow in Russian history.
Check out the conference website for the official conference report.