Accepted paper:

A History of Knowledge on Mountains and Woods Transnational academic discourses and transfer practices, Germany and the U.S. (1750-1950)


Swen Steinberg (University of California, Los Angeles)

Paper short abstract:

Using models of network analysis and basic approaches of the modern history of knowledge the paper analyses the emergence as well as the social and transnational distribution and modification of the forestry and mining sciences. The paper is based on the current post-doc project at UCLA.

Paper long abstract:

As a result of the economic crisis after the Seven Years' War and the take-off of industrialization in Germany, new scientific disciplines were established: the modern forestry and the mining science. Both disciplines experienced rapid international expansion. Following the 'German' paragons, schools and colleges were founded - first in Europe and later in the U.S. - where the 'use' of nature as well as sustainability concepts were taught and disseminated. The paper aims to investigate these processes at three different levels: First, transfer and modification of knowledge on the use of nature between German-speaking countries and North America will be analyzed. In particular, the paper will analyze the effect of those individuals who deliberately transferred 'German' ideas about the use of nature and who put them to use. It will also be studied where the corresponding concepts were applied successfully. This exchange is seen as a two-way process. Second, the paper will investigate associated discourses on the use of and the knowledge on nature and natural resources in the 19/20th Century (e.g. notions of nature of German and British Romanticism. Third, the paper aims to compare different parties that were involved in the process: The development and implementation of academic concepts for the use of nature in forestry and mining academies entailed the formation of a functional elite (foresters, forest botanists, mining engineers). It is likely that such a professionalization caused conflicts, e.g. between academically qualified experts and practically active 'players'.

panel P02
Closing the door on globalization: cultural nationalism and scientific internationalism in the 19th and 20th centuries