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Historisches Seminar

Finance and its Environments: New Approaches to Capital

May 23-24, 2024
Venue: KOL-G-212

This conference asks 3 critical questions that emerge from our current moment when reconciling the challenges coming out of climate crisis with forms of economic growth at the national and international scale pose a contradiction:

  1. How is the climate crisis itself shaping the emergence of new financial instruments and in what ways does this follow the evolution of the political economy of financial forms from the nineteenth century? 
  2. How does the increasing financialization of nature cast new light on older questions on natural resource frontiers, agrarian life worlds, environmental risk, climate hazard, science and technology? 
  3. How can an explicitly interdisciplinary approach broaden how we understand “environment” as a field of social negotiations and structural dynamics between global cores and peripheries even as these are being re-made in our current context? 

As such, the relevance of these questions arises directly from the urgency of the climate crisis and the necessity of the broader social sciences for posing questions and frameworks through which to navigate it far beyond academia. By focusing on finance and its intersections with climate science, climate risk and the political economy of inter- and intra-governmental solutions to the climate crisis this international conference brings together multiple research fields, like climate history, financial history, political science, economics and legal history. It poses its question within a planetary and global scale of relevance.

This conference will be a venue to develop new tools for analysing the financial framework through which we can investigate the climate breakdown. The focus will be to historicize such phenomena as: sovereign lending, the intersection of financial and physical infrastructures in the colonial and early postcolonial world, the politics and logics of central banking and global money management, the structure of everyday life for producers both on the margins of the financial world and the frontlines of environmental and climate crisis. There is little historical work on the longer history of finance and ecological crisis and even less work that integrates the historical with contemporary social-science research on green transition, de-risking of states and financial assets. This interdisciplinary conference brings together historians, political theorists and anthropologists working on economy, finance, money, and climate and ecological crisis. Together, we aim to make sense of how the environment, climate, agrarian lifeworlds, infrastructures and bodies have historically been produced and rescripted through various tools of economization, financialization and assetization. 

Everyone is welcome to the conference, however because of the format and room specification we had to cap attendance to 40 people. Please register via this form in order to access the pre-circulated papers.


…are financially supporting this conference