«Transcending Nature: the Anthropocene and environmental history of Northern Eurasia»: summer school at the University of Tyumen, Tyumen (Russia), 27 July – 2 August 2020 [Online!]

Due to pandemic of COVID-19, the school will be held online — see the important update below.

The beginning of the 21st century will be called ‘the epoch of ecology’ by the future generations of historians. Wildfires, floods, increasingly warm winters and rainy summers have caused a tempestuous debate on the role of humanity in connection with environmental change. In this regard, the comparatively new term of the ‘Anthropocene’ has received widespread recognition and, as it seems, will be adopted as an official term at the 36th World Geological Congress in India  in 2020 to denote the current geological epoch. The present-day situation in the sciences looks paradoxical: as Bruno Latour points out, the environmental issue is not purely scientific anymore. It is more than ever a matter of social struggle and controversy as well as political bargaining to ratify new interpretations of nature policy.

This means that the study of the environment can no longer be left to the sciences alone, but must be tackled interdisciplinarity. In order to understand its complex entanglements, the environment becomes a legitimate field of interest for scholars of the social sciences and humanities as the Anthropocene stands for an epoch that no longer allows the thought divide between nature and culture.

The aim of the summer school is to collect ideas on the Anthropocene in Northern Eurasia and to discuss similarities and differences with the other regions.

The formation of a new language  for the epoch of Anthropocene is impossible without the study of specific cases in their relationship with up-to-date approaches of the environmental humanities. As a result, the goal of the summer school is to discuss the idea of a North Eurasian Anthropocene, its similarity and differences from other regional variations and anthropocenic developments elsewhere in the world. To accomplish this, it is necessary to combine regional case studies and the general theoretical framework.

At the school, we are going to discuss various aspects of the environmental humanities:

  • Key approaches of environmental humanities,
  • An environmental history of Northern Eurasia,
  • Global and regional dimensions of the Anthropocene.

We welcome applications from historians, philosophers, anthropologists or sociologists. However, applications must not necessarily have their disciplinary background in one of the listed disciplines as the program is open to all graduate students and early career researchers, whose interests lie in the field of environmental humanities and for those who are interested in the understanding of the environment through a humanities perspective. We suppose that the participants intensively read texts on environmental studies and then discuss them during the summer school.

Please send your application by May 1, 2020 May 17, 2020, to anthropoceneschool2020@gmail.com including a draft of your presentation for the school (700 – 1000 words) and CV. Reimbursement of travel expenses and accommodation is possible for some participants. Please indicate whether you need compensation for your travel.

Program overview

The aim of this summer school is to bring together young scholars (MA and PhD students) and specialists in the fields of environmental humanities and Russian/Soviet/Northern Eurasia environmental history. We suppose that the phenomenon of the Anthropocene is widely discussed now, but the voice of historians is still not strong enough. To strengthen this voice, we want to discuss how we could study the Anthropocene historically and how regional cases can contribute to the discussion and understanding of this global phenomenon.

The summer school’s program includes lectures, reading seminars, paper presentations and discussions. We perceive lectures and reading seminars as a guide to generally grasp the problems of the Anthropocene and look at its applicability to Russian/Soviet history as well as the history of Eastern Europe. Paper presentations will consist of group work using the participants’ theses and a discussion of their research through from the perspective of the environmental humanities. We also propose two collective discussions – one about the current state of the environmental humanities and their position in the academic world and one final debate about the role of historical study of Northern Eurasia in the debates on Anthropocene.


Tyumen is the first and the oldest Russian city in Siberia. It was founded in 1586 to support Russia’s eastward expansion, and still remains to be one of the most important industrial centers of the region. Since 2018, Tyumen is recognized as the most comfortable (in terms of living) city in Russia.

The University of Tyumen is among the 15 best in Russia. In July 2019 a research center “Humanet: Human, Nature, Technology” was founded there. The center gathers a team of young scholars coming from the field of history and environmental humanities, who represent the school’s organizing committee. The goal of the center is to connect the area studies of Siberia and fields of environmental humanities.

The majority of the summer school’s planned events will be held in Lukashino, which is part of the university’s campus located near the city, and surrounded by a picturesque landscape. The school’s invitees will be accommodated in shared rooms with shared kitchen and showers. The university campus in Lukashino offers a conference room and a good recreation and sports infrastructure.

Cultural program

Excursions, hiking tours and informal meetings will make an important part of the summer school’s program. They will be connected with the subject of the school and will give the opportunity for informal network and exchange.

The school will start with a guided tour through the city of Tyumen and visits of the city’s most important museums: The Museum of the City Council (that holds an extensive collection about the natural history of the region), the Museum of Local History and the Archaeological Museum.

Participants of the school will be offered the opportunity to visit and swim in the geothermal hot springs near Lukashino, which are one of the main attractions of Tyumen. On the last day of the school, we will go on a guided tour through Tobolsk – the city which used to be the “capital of Siberia” from the 17th to the 19th century. The tour will include the exploration of the picturesque landscape and visits to the Tobolsk Kremlin (the last building of this kind in Russian history, constructed in the 18th century), ancient Orthodox churches and monasteries.

For further questions, please contact Timofey Rakov: timofey.rakov@gmail.com.

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Due to pandemic of COVID-19 and pessimistic scenarios of it spread we decided to change the form of our Summer School “Transcending Nature: the Anthropocene and Environmental History of Northern Eurasia”. We would hold the School online in the same dates, July 27 – August 2.

We changed the deadline for your applications, now it is May 17.

However, in the situation of change of the form we want to know a little bit more about our potential participants. So we asked to send a short motivation letter in which describe the motive for applying to the School and your expectations from it. The full application will now consists of draft of your presentation for the school (700 – 1000 words), motivation letter and CV.

Working languages of the school: Russian and English.

Please send your application by May 17, 2020, to anthropoceneschool2020@gmail.com.

The selected participants would be notified by June 1. If the pandemic situation will change and quarantine ends we hope to hold the School in the traditional offline form.

Looking forward to see your applications and please stay safe!

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