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Embattled nature: men and landscapes on the Eastern Front of the First World War | Conference

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University of Vienna (Institut für Osteuropäische Geschichte, Institut für Zeitgeschichte)




Second World War


The 1914-1918 war on the Eastern Front rapidly militarised the vast territories from the Baltic to the Black Sea. The Great War in the East can however also be perceived as a learning system for infrastructure, fortification and epidemic control in occupied territories, and a confrontation between the two collapsing Empires, Tsarist Russia and the k.&k. Habsburg Monarchy. The spatial and ecological dimensions of the first industrial war have recently become central to the research debate on military history.The multiple dimensions of belligerent landscapes require an interdisciplinary approach at the interface of military history, ecology, anthropology, archaeology, geology, and cultural geography. The gradual nature of the research has so far led to an uneven development of the research field.This conference aims to cover the research gap regarding the Eastern Front and its imperial debris by the two collapsing Empires, taking also insights from comparative views to other frontlines, occupation politics and edge of Empire research.The results will be published.Our project “Great War and Antropocene: Empire and Environment in Eastern Europe” (FWF Austria, 2021-2024) can be found here:


Thursday, 9 March 2023

9:00 – 9:15 Welcome9:15 – 10:30 Opening lecture + DiscussionProf. Nicholas Saunders (Bristol University)Conflict landscapes at the edge of Empire: Archaeology of a Desert Insurgency – the Arab Revolt, 1916-18Chair: Prof. Dr. Kerstin Susanne Jobst (Vienna University)10:30 – 11:00 Coffee break

11:00 – 13:00 Panel 1. Environment as the Battlefield: Rivers, Mountains and Forests in Military StrategiesChair: Prof. Dr. Klaus Gestwa (Tübingen University)Dr. Christoph Nübel (Bundeswehr Center for Military History and Social Sciences, Potsdam)Scorched Earth. 'Unternehmen Alberich' as a Case Study for WW1 Warscapes AnalysisProf. Dr. Gustavo Corni (University of Trento)Transformation of the landscape: the war logistics on the Plateau of Lavarone and Folgaria at the border between Austria-Hungary and ItalyMA David Novotny (Vienna University)City, Forts and the San - Przemysl, 1914-15: Contemporary perception of the fortified cityCommentary: Prof. Dr. Kerstin von Lingen (Vienna University)13:00 – 14:00 Lunch

14:00 – 16:00 Panel 2. Belligerent landscapes of WWI in Individual Narratives and PropagandaChair: Doz. Dr. Hannes Leidinger (Vienna University)Dr. Wolfram Dornik (Municipal Archives of Graz)Space and Environment in individual Testimonies of German speaking Soldiers of Habsburg Army, 1914-18MA Alexandra Likhacheva (Yaroslavl Pedagogical University)Galicia’s Landscapes of the First World War in the Prism of the Photographic Camera: Visualisation of the Belligerent SpacesDr. Elisabeth Haid-Lener (Vienna University)Galician Landscapes as an Element of Austrian and Russian War PropagandaCommentary: Prof. Dr. Oksana Nagornaya (Yaroslavl Pedagogical University)16:00 – 16:30 Coffee break

16:30 – 18:30 Panel 3. Occupied landscapes of the Eastern front: owning and managing the enemy spaceChair: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Mueller (Vienna University)Prof. Dr. Stephan Lehnstaedt (Touro University, Campus Berlin)Know what you occupy: The Surveying of Poland by the Central PowersDr. Yaroslav Golubinov (Samara University)Oil as a resource and element of defence: the cases of Galicia 1915 and Romania 1916Prof. Dr. Oksana Nagornaya (Yaroslavl Pedagogical University)Occupied Landscapes and Environmental Transformation on the Eastern Front of the First World WarCommentary: PD Dr. Daniel Marc Segesser (Bern University)

Friday, 10 March 2023

8:30 – 10:30 Panel 4. Imperial Debris: toxic war estate and demilitarization of landscapes in the era of revolutions and imperial collapseChair: Prof. Dr. Tanja Penter (Heidelberg University)Dr. Tait Keller (Rhodes College)The Environmental Costs of Imperial Collapse: War Lands on the Eastern FrontDr. Yulia Zherdeva (Samara University)Toxic heritage of the war: demilitarization of Eastern Front landscapesDr. Kamil Ruszała, (Jagiellonian University)Monuments between the ruins: the landscape of Galicia after the battleCommentary: PD Dr. Tamara Scheer (Vienna University/ Päpstliches Institut Santa Maria dell’Anima)10:30 – 11:00 Coffee break

11:00 – 12:30 Panel 5. Hospitals and burials: medicine at warChair: Prof. Dr. Christa Hämmerle (Vienna University)MA Andrea Rendl (Vienna University)“Dangerous experiment“ vs. “Great blessing“: Vaccination and Healthcare Narratives of the Imperial and Royal Army at the Eastern Front (1914-1916)Prof. Józef Żychowski, Dr. Paweł Struś (Krakow Pedagogical University)The impact of World War I cemeteries on the concentration of elements in the soil of these cemeteries located in south-eastern PolandCommentary: Prof. Dr. Claudia Theune (Vienna University)12:30 – 13:30: Final debate: Spatial turn and environmental history in the era of Anthropocene. Research of the WWI: new approaches and sources13:30 Lunch, End of conference

Organizers: Prof. Kerstin Susanne Jobst (Osteuropäische Geschichte), Prof. Dr. Kerstin von Lingen (Zeitgeschichte)

Seats are limited, please register! Contact: Erika Stiller-Lanz,

This conference was kindly made possible by funding from FWF (Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung), Institut für Osteuropäische Geschichte, Institut für Zeitgeschichte, and Historisch-Kulturwissenschaftliche Fakultät.

Further details

Erika Stiller-Lanz
Pol-Int team

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