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Nature, technologies, and political projects of state socialism in Europe, 1920s–80s 
Vasily Borovoy (University College Dublin)
Elena Kochetkova (University of Bergen)
Sarah Hamilton (University of Bergen)
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Navigating Conflict, Governance, and Activism
Room 1
Tuesday 20 August, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Helsinki
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Short Abstract:

The panel focuses upon the interactions between nature and state socialist projects in Europe. It considers underrepresented natural resources, regional perspectives, and agency of professionals in state institutions and science along their roles in the making of socialism.

Long Abstract:

Thirty years after the collapse of state socialism in Europe we witnessed numerous negative environmental and social impacts of the planned economies. The recent infamous example of this is Krasnoyarsk in Russia – now recognised as the most polluted city in the world. Scholars often explained socialist attempts of massive transformation of nature, territories, and peoples as polluting and destroying. But was nature always a neglected background of ambitious economic goals under state socialism? Some scholars recently argued that state socialism was not ecocide but rather a more complicated relation of socialist regimes, societies, and nature (Gille, 2007; Bruno, 2016; Kochetkova, 2023).

This panel goes into recent debates about socialist environments and economies. It focuses on the role of natural resources and their interactions with socialist regimes and societies in Europe in the 20th century. How did these state regimes and societies approach the environment when conquering new lands, experimenting with new technologies, and building new industrial sites? In light of the ongoing environmental crisis, we will discuss strategies of nature-economy and nature-politics interactions. We will examine the technology as a tool and discourse that played a crucial role in socialist regimes. Also, we will explore the benefits of regional case studies (though limited by European socialist states), looking not at centralized economic authorities, but at the rules, regulations, and tensions that shaped the agency of economic institutions in particular places. It will nuance our understanding of the interaction between nature and socialist economic projects.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Tuesday 20 August, 2024, -
Session 2 Tuesday 20 August, 2024, -