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Integrating Humanities Scholarship within the Science of Global Environmental Change: The example of Inscribing Environmental Memory in the Icelandic Sagas (IEM), an IHOPE case study
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Humanities. (Engelska)
Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY). (Archaeology)
2014 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Inscribing Environmental Memory in the Icelandic Sagas (IEM) is a major interdisciplinary research initiative examining environmental memory in the medieval Icelandic sagas. The initiative brings together teams of historians, literary scholars, archaeologists and geographers, as well as specialists in environmental sciences and medieval studies, to investigate long-term human ecodynamics and environmental change from the period of Iceland’s settlement in the Viking Age (AD 874-930) through the so-called Saga Age of the early and late medieval periods, and well into the long period of steady cooling in the Northern hemisphere popularly known as the Little Ice Age (AD 1350-1850). In her 1994 volume inaugurating the field of historical ecology Carole Crumley argued in favor of a “longitudinal” approach to the study of longue durée human ecodynamics. This approach takes a region as the focus for study and examines changing human-landscape-climate interactions through time in that particular place. IEM involves multiple frames of inquiry that are distinct yet cross-referential. Environmental change in Iceland during the late Iron Age and medieval period is investigated by physical environmental sciences. Just how known processes of environmental change and adaptation may have shaped medieval Icelandic sagas and their socio-environmental preoccupations is of great interest, yet just as interesting are other questions concerning how these sagas may in turn have shaped understandings of the past, cultural foundation narratives, environmental lore, local ecological knowledge etc. Enlisting environmental sciences and humanities scholarship in the common aim of framing and thereby better understanding nature, the IEM initiative excludes nothing as “post- interesting” or “pre-interesting.” Understanding Viking Age first settlement processes informs understanding of 18th century responses to climate change, and 19th century resource use informs understanding of archaeological patterns visible at first settlement a millennium earlier. There is much to gain from looking at pathways (and their divergences) from both ends, and a long millennial scale perspective is one of the key contributions that the study of past “completed experiments in human ecodynamics” can make to attempts to achieve future sustainability. IEM is a case study of the Integrated History and future of People on Earth initiative (IHOPE) led by the international project AIMES (Analysis, Integration and Modeling of the Earth System), a core project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme; the initiative is co-sponsored by PAGES (Past Global Changes) and IHDP (The International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change). This talk brings together two of the main coordinators from IEM’s sponsoring organizations, NIES and NABO, to reflect on the particular challenges, innovations and advances anticipated in this unprecedented undertaking of integrated science and scholarship, a new model for the scientific framing of nature.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
University of Tartu, Estonia: EASLCE & NIES , 2014.
Keyword [en]
Global Environmental Change, Literature and Environment, Historical Ecology, Integrated Science and Scholarship, Ecocriticism, Environmental Archaeology, Environmental History, Norse Sagas, Medieval Literature, Paleoenvironments
National Category
General Literature Studies Archaeology History Other Humanities not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-22111OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-22111DiVA: diva2:722334
Conference
"Framing Nature: Signs, Stories and Ecologies of Meaning" Joint conference of the European Association for the Study of Literature, Culture and Environment (EASLCE) and the Nordic Network for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies (NIES), Tartu, 29 April–3 May 2014
Note

Keynote lecture, May 3, 2014.

Link to downloadable powerpoint document:

https://miun.academia.edu/StevenHartman

Available from: 2014-06-07 Created: 2014-06-07 Last updated: 2014-07-09Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

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Other links

"Framing Nature" conference website (pdf download of conference program and booklet available)

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