Knowledge about Resources. Challenges of the Exploration and Exploitation of Resources in East Central Europe in the 19th and 20th Centuries

A joint conference of the Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe – Institute of the Leibniz Association (Marburg), the Collegium Carolinum (München) and the Centre for Environmental History (Tallinn), 18.-19. April 2013, Marburg

With the establishment of statistics, national economy, geography and their neighbouring disciplines, from the 19th century on the exploration and exploitation of natural resources was intensified, since it was regarded as a basic prerequisite for economic development and growth. This concept held true not only for the overseas colonies of Western European nations, but also for the heartlands themselves, whose potential economic performance was to be measured and recorded. The attention concentrated not only on the classic ‘fuels’ of the industrialisation such as coal and iron, but also the potentials of agriculture and forestry, the raw materials of upcoming branches of industry (chemical industry, electrical engineering, etc.), the capacity of the transport system and last but not least the human being itself as the source of manpower. In the empires of East Central Europe – and its newly founded states of 1918 respectively – a large variety of protagonists from politics, science, industry and society took an active role in this process.
The conference has intended to approach its topic, the exploration and exploitation of natural resources in East Central Europe, from a perspective related to the history of knowledge and environment.