Call for Papers: International Conference

'Protecting nature and the environment in the 19th and 20th centuries – the French experience’

24 and 25 September 2010, Paris

Organised by the Association for the History of the Protection of Nature and the Environment (AHPNE) and the Universities of Paris-Sorbonne and Paris-Sud

The history of the protection of nature and the environment in France has resulted in numerous publications in the last thirty years. Research has focussed, for example, on the existence – or not – of environmental protection policies in France before the creation of the ministry of the environment in 1971, on the creation of natural parks, on environmental pressure groups and on the emergence of environmental law. However, current research remains scattered amongst different academic disciplines, and the opportunities for dialogue have been rare since the publication of the proceedings of the Florac conference in 1985, on Protection de la Nature, Histoire et Ideologie. Yet, the recent renewed interest in France for environmental questions amongst the general public, politicians and the corporate sector, call for a historical perspective that would enable a better understanding of the phenomenon. Moreover, much research on environmental protection in France has also recently been undertaken by scholars outside of France, and it is one of the conference's aims to enable dialogue between scholars of different countries.

The conference organisers would be particularly interested by papers (from any academic discipline) addressing one or more of the following questions:

  • What is particularly – if anything – about French society's relation to 'nature' and the environment in the late modern era? How do these specificities explain the emergence of a "light-green society" in post-WWII France (Michael Bess)?
  • To what extent were French environmental policies inspired by concepts, ideas and experiences from abroad?
  • Is the accusation of the ‘backwardness’ of France in environmental protection, for example in relation to Britain and Germany, a valid one?
  • What role did/does the French approach, if it exists, play in European environmental policies?
  • Who have been (and who are today) the actors of environmental protection in France (the state, associations, NGOs, city councils, private corporations, citizens…)? What have been their respective roles and how successful have they been in influencing legislation and public opinion?

Please send proposals (1 page maximum), with a CV, to both Charles-Francois Mathis (University of Paris-Sorbonne, and Jean-Francois Mouhot (University of Birmingham,, before 29 January 2010.

see conference programme

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