The Institute of History, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague Czech geographical society


Keynote Speech 1

Strategies to “survive” as Historical Geographer in Germany after the scientific turn of geography in the late 1970s

Thursday September 1, 9:00 – 10:00, Room 1, ground floor
Winfried Schenk
University of Bonn, Germany

Winfried Schenk is a professor of the Historical Geography at the Institute of Geography, University of Bonn. He studied ethnology, history, German language and geography at the University of Würzburg where he completed his habilitation at the Faculty of Geosciences with the thesis named "Forest management, forest conditions and regional development in pre-industrial times in the central Germany". He also worked as a professor of Human Geography and Regional Studies at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen.

Professor Schenk is one of the best European specialist on the historical geography and history of geography, nevertheless, his broader research interest comprises environmental history, historical settlement research, historical and cultural landscape, cultural geography, housing, and economic and social geography as a whole. He is author and editor of many monographies, scientific articles and methodological and didactic books.

Abstract: Until the 1960s the historical-genetic approach formed a core area of German geographical research. With the scientific turn in geography during the 1970s, some of its questions had been seen as less problem-oriented and sometimes as societally irrelevant. To obtain the historical-genetic approach two strategies were pursued in Germany, an interdisciplinary (1), and an adaption to applied working fields (2) in the last decades. Today a young generation of historical geographers show a third way in the direction of the so-called “new cultural geography” (3).

1. The interdisciplinary strategy meant a slight distancing of the continuing historical and geographical work from mainstream geography in Germany, both in the working fields and in the research organization.

2. The strategy to adapt to applied fields had the aim to secure a place especially for the historical-genetic approach within the modernized geography.

3. The third way is marked by two conferences in 2014 and 2016 under the headline “Between history and geography, between time and space”. One can see that former borders of curricula seem to dissolve.

Keynote Speech 2

Europe’s cultural diversity as a problem for European integration

Thursday September 1, 10:30 – 11:00, Room 1, ground floor
Peter Jordan
Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria

Professor Peter Jordan studied geography, cartography and ethnology at the University of Vienna and finished his habilitation for “Geography with special regard to regional geography and cartography" at the University of Klagenfurt. For three decades he worked at the Austrian Institute of East and Southeast European Studies and was at times also its director; later he changed to the Institute of Urban and Regional Research at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. He is a member of many scientific boards of international organisations, e.g. the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names, and editorial boards as well as the editor of the Austrian geographical journal.

His main interest is in the political and cultural geography of Central and Eastern Europe with a regional focus on the successor states of Yugoslavia and on Romania. He also has published hundreds of scientific publications on atlas cartography, cartographic methods, geography of tourism and toponomastics. He has lead many cooperative research projects, e.g. on cartography, environmental studies, tourism, geographical names or geopolitics. Besides others, he edited the Atlas of Eastern and Southeastern Europe.

Abstract: European integration is obviously impeded by the national and nation-state idea that is still vigorous and makes member states of the European Union (EU) refuse to cede powers to the EU or subnational levels. Recent events like the global economic crisis, the Euro as well as the migration crisis have, however, demonstrated that it is not just the national idea and the nation state that lets further integration appear very difficult, but that also fundamental differences in cultural attitudes in different parts of Europe are responsible for that. Thus, people in Southeast Europe look at state authorities and the public sphere at large with much more skepticism than in Western Europe, where cooperation with public authorities is less problematic and public engagement is much more popular. Attitudes like these are not just the result of Communism in parts of Europe. They can be traced back to earlier periods of history and have their roots in the fact that the West of Europe functioned since the early Middle Ages (the Franconian Empire) as the core of several innovation waves that reached other parts of Europe only to some extent or not all. In a cumulative way, they diversified Europe into parts with very divergent economic, social and political attitudes. These disparities are difficult to be equalized and rather accentuated by modern migration. The paper will highlight Europe’s major cultural differentiation processes in history, hint at their current traces in economic, social and political attitudes and relate them to problems in European integration.