Environing the Planet:
Historicizing Global Environmental Governance and the new Human-Earth Relationship
It is soon a half century since the UN 1972 conference in Stockholm on the Human Environment signaled the arrival of a global environmental politics, much later named Global Environmental Governance, GEG. How did the entire earth become a governable object? And, as a necessary follow up question: How did a ‘planetary humanities and social sciences’ emerge and what roles have these domains of knowledge and practice played? In this talk I will contextualize and historicize the GEG phenomenon. I will demonstrate how the idea of a governable earth emerged through processes of articulation and temporalization of ‘the environment’ in several areas of science, including Earth Systems Science, taking a more substantive form in 1980s. In recent years the GEG agenda has been informed by Anthropocene debates and the rise of climate change as a defining contemporary global concern. One can see this as outcomes of practices of ‘environing’ whereby ever growing domains of the Earth and its systems have been the subject of human reflexivity and discourse. Ultimately this will also help explain the remarkable rise of integrative fields of new knowledge approaches to global concerns, such as the Environmental Humanities and other strands climate and environmental research in the human and social sciences.
Brief CV Sverker Sörlin
Sverker Sörlin is an historian, author, and a Professor in the Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm. He holds a PhD in the History of Science and Ideas (1988). He has been Professor of Environmental History since 1993, first at Umeå University, at KTH since 2002. He has held visiting positions at, e.g. Berkeley, Cambridge, Oslo, Cape Town, and The Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and served as an advisor on research, environmental and climate policies since the mid-1990s. His current research interests encompass the history of the new human-earth relationship and the emergence of 'the environment' as a governable object through societal discourse, scientific practices, and 'environing technologies', a concept he started developing in 2011 in the context of launching the KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory of which he was a co-founder. Recent books include The Future of Nature: Documents of Global Change (Yale 2013), The Environment -- a History of the Idea (Johns Hopkins 2018), both with Libby Robin (ANU) and Paul Warde (Cambridge), and (with Henrik Ernstson) Grounding Urban Natures: Histories and Futures of Urban Ecologies (MIT Press 2019).