Call for paper: The Environment and European Public Sphere: Perception, Actors, Policies

Conference organized by the “Writing a New History of Europe” EHNE laboratoire d’excellence, the French-German network “Saisir l’Europe”, and the German Historical Institute Paris.

October 18-20, 2017, German Historical Institute, Paris

Deadline: March 31, 2017

This conference is part of a research project that uses environmental questions to explore the emergence of a European public sphere and its impact on defining European environmental policy since the 1970s. It falls within an approach that has renewed the historiography of international relation in Europe after 1945 by selecting civil society as the departure point for a historical study of decision-making processes. This renewal has imposed itself chiefly due to the emergence of aEurope-wide space of communication beginning in the 1970s, one that was especially fostered by the rise of new social movements and communication technologies. One can observe a growing convergence in the debates taking place within a number of communication spaces in Europe, whether national, regional, or linguistic. Moreover, although the construction of Europe may favor such convergences, the ones in question are hardly limited to the European Community or institutions. They are, however, reinforced when they pertain to transnational matters such as environmental problems, which by their nature cross all sorts of borders, including that of the Iron Curtain. Once the notion of increasing convergence within this European communication space is accepted, the question arises as to the conditions and timeframes in which these convergences helped construct subjects from one or more European policies.

The conference will be organized around four major topics:

1/ Perceptions and circulation of ideas: the objective is to understand the specificity of a European perception of the environment, and especially the impact of environmental catastrophes on this perception, along with the circulation of ideas regarding environmental protection on the European level.

2/ Social actors: the objective is to study the activities of social movements that included an environmental dimension, notably anti-nuclear movements within their cross-border dimension, as well as lobbying activities regarding environmental questions in Brussels or other power centers of Europe.

3/ Parliamentary work: the objective is to analyze parliamentary activities in Europe, with the European Parliament as a place of transmission between the public sphere and the executive branch. Special attention will be paid to the activities of political parties.

4/ European environmental policy: the objective is to grasp how this growing convergence determines the agenda of various national governments in Europe and supranational authorities in Brussels, along with the interaction between these two levels and the international level.

In an effort to ensure coherence in this shared reflection, we ask contributors to reflect upon the following questions in their presentations:
– In what way do environmental issues fit into the European scale?
– What connection is there between different scales in Europe (locale, regional, national and supranational) and with the international or global scale?
– At what levels of the process can forms of European emergence be observed?
– What is the best-adapted periodization?
– What importance should be given to the 1970s?
– What importance should be given to longue durée dynamics (including the nineteenth century)?

The working languages will be French and English. Please send your proposal (500 words) and a brief CV as pdf-file until March 31, 2017 to . A bilingual publication of the conference results is planned. With this in mind, the conference participants should send the organizers a first draft of their written contribution (40,000 characters including spaces) before October 1, 2017, accompanied by a summary in the other languages (500 characters).


Advisory Board for the conference:
Eric Bussière (Paris-Sorbonne/LabEx EHNE),
Anahita Grisoni (Saisir l’Europe),
Hélène Miard-Delacroix (Paris-Sorbonne/LabEx EHNE),
Christian Wenkel (Paris-Sorbonne/LabEx EHNE).


For further information on this project (in French or in German): .