IV Congreso Internacional
Historia a Debate
Santiago de Compostela, 15-19 de diciembre de 2010
� Ponencias aceptadas
Apto. I. 2. Innovaciones paradigmáticas (Historia mixta como historia
Kari Väyrynen (University of Oulu, Finlandia)
Cultural History meets Environmental History beyond Narrativistic Anthropocentrism?
Mans relationship to nature and the environment is a topicthat has been taken increasingly seriously in recent studies in cultural history. Topics such as the human body and sicknesses, natural phases of human life, animals and their representations in human culture as well as mentalities concerning� ature have become more and more popular in the area of cultural history as well. However, this has taken place later than in the general area of history, where environmental history has managed to establish itself as an
important special field. Furthermore, the concept of nature has been a popular object of research in the history of ideas and philosophy since the basic work of Clarence Glackens (Traces on the Rhodian Shore 1967). Cultural history has stressed the importance of various constructions and narratives of nature along with their presentations in the common mentalities, popular culture, art and literature. Environmental history, on the other hand, has adopted a more realistic view: natural processes have been regarded as active forces, which themselves take part in the construction of the history. My paper asks whether cultural history, too, should adapt this view and acknowledge nature as an active cultural force? After all, culture is not only narrative, but also a response to some real challenges provided to us by nature. These challenges are not only problems to be solved, but also positive sources of inspiration which help us develop our culture further. Cultural history should pay attention to these kinds of co-operative
processes, due to which culture can be seen as something that engages in a constant learning dialogue with nature. As an example I have analyzed the meaning of the earthquake of Lisbon in 1756 and its intellectual and cultural responses in the European history of ideas.