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Disasters Wet and Dry: Rivers, Floods, and Droughts in World History


23.05.2013 – 26.05.2013

An international conference to be held in Beijing, at Renmin University of China, May 23-26, 2013

Conference report (PDF) 

Co-Sponsored by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, LMU Munich, and the Center for Ecological History, Renmin University of China

Conveners: Mingfeng Xia (Center for Ecological History, Remin University of China), Christof Mauch (RCC), Donald Worster (University of Kansas/Remin University of China)

Program (pdf, 146 KB)

Too much, too little of a good thing?  Water is one of the basic elements of life on earth, yet again and again it has been either in short supply or overabundant plenty.  The result has been a string of environmental disasters that have prompted bursts of migration and adaptation, along with projects of flood control or water enhancement.  It seems that societies can never find the perfect balance.

This small workshop-like conference will explore across national boundaries and throughout the human past the social, political, cultural, and economic effects of flooding rivers and cycles of drought.  We invite scholars in history and related disciplines to submit paper proposals on such questions as these: How have different societies understood drought and flood, and how have traditional knowledge and modern science shaped social understanding of those phenomena?  What strategies of coping have societies pursued, and where did they succeed and where did they fail?  What kinds of community relief have they devised, short-term or long-term? How have natural disasters influenced the development of civilizations?  How may human actions have created conditions for disastrous floods and droughts?

Paper proposals for individual submissions should be one‐page long (or about 300 words) and include a title and a one‐ or two‐page CV. The deadline for consideration is 1 January 2013. Successful proposals will be announced by 1 February, and complete drafts of papers will be required by 1 May.

Download the call for papers (pdf, 100 KB).


Submitted papers (for participants only; password protected)

Ellen Arnold (pdf, 102 KB)

Nicholas Breyfogle (pdf, 606 KB)

Peter Coates (pdf, 146 KB)

Kathryn Edgerton-Tarpley (pdf, 123 KB)

Seth Garfield (pdf, 175 KB)

Andrew Horowitz (pdf, 232 KB)

Serverin Hohensinner & Martin Schmid (pdf, 1,602 KB)

Yingze Hu (pdf, 443 KB)

Andrea Janku (pdf, 495 KB)

Svetlana Kovalskaya (pdf, 114 KB)

Junya Ma (pdf, 880 KB)

Kundai Manamere (pdf, 92 KB)

John Morgan (pdf, 357 KB)

Ruth Morgan (pdf, 491 KB)

Ruth Mostern (pdf, 2,246 KB)

Emily O'Gorman (pdf, 2,269 KB)

Steven Serels (pdf, 142 KB)

Bradley Skopyk (pdf, 1,770 KB)

Tim Soens (pdf, 2,941 KB)

Dale Stahl (pdf, 3,717 KB)

David Strahorn (pdf, 83 KB)

Jiange Wang (Chinese + English abstract; pdf, 949 KB)

Pan Wei (pdf, 501 KB)

Dorothy Zeisler-Vralsted (pdf, 73 KB)

Jiayan Zhang (pdf, 307KB)

Jingping Zhang (Chinese + English; pdf, 105 KB)

Li Zhang (Chinese; pdf, 565 KB)

Ling Zhang (pdf, 3,983 KB)

Qing Zhou (pdf, 187 KB)

Qing Zhou (Chinese; pdf, 1,559 KB)