Specialized Themes

Man and Nature. Between Destruction and Creation
Session code
Date Time
Wednesday, August 24th / 09.00-12.30
Tadeusz Janicki; Dariusz Gwiazdowicz
Collegium Novum, C2

At the threshold of the 21st century the awareness of interdependence between man and natural environment is prevalent. However, conventional historiography still focuses on interpersonal relations between people and only partly admits the fact that any human activity takes place in natural surroundings, which over the centuries posed a threat but was also a foundation for the development of civilization. Man’s relations with nature have changed over the centuries with regard to economy, society and culture. Nature wasn’t and still isn’t merely an object of man’s activity and exploitation but also an active factor affecting the history of civilization.
In this context a number of research questions and theses arise, one of them being of primary importance for the session of the planned section. It deals with the issue of destruction of the natural landscape and creation of the cultural landscape in the past as a precondition for the development of civilization and the forms of their coexistence, as testified by contemporary forms of nature protection which cover also cultural values. The above problem can be exemplified by the history of forests, that is one of the most important ecosystems for biological, economic and cultural existence of a human.
With regard to methodology the organizers of the section wish to carry out a holistic and comparative analysis of the destruction of the natural landscape and creation of the cultural landscape based on cooperation between historians and naturalists. This is consistent with the assumptions of environmental history and with the latest trends in historic sciences, receiving the historical process as an accumulated result of diverse activities of man functioning in a constantly changing natural and ideological environment.