The two-day seminar offers an interdisciplinary initiative to study the evolution of authoritarian systems through the prism of how these regimes relate to their physical environment. There is a general assumption that, in comparison with liberal democratic systems, authoritarian regimes have less concern for nature preservation as they have less apprehension about their citizens’ wellbeing. There is, however, a globally rising awareness of the declining state of the environment (climate change, pollution, resource depletion, overpopulation) that endangers the existence of any human political system. Authoritarian leaders have begun to show more and more interest in global discussions and processes aiming to find joint solutions to the fast deteriorating physical environment. Simultaneously, there is a growing social consciousness and flow of information generating civic activism with an environmental agenda.
Taking into consideration this complex context, the seminar aims to investigate the nature-culture and nature-society relationship of any modern authoritarian regime. The organizers suggest the following sub-themes for consideration in relation to the natural environment in authoritarian regimes:
- Perception of the environment: ideology, rhetoric, politics, culture and education
- Environmental management: change and continuity
- Civic response and power dynamics: actors, networks, action-models
- Pressures of the spatial context: international – regional – national – local perspectives
Confirmed speakers include: Stephen Brain (Mississippi State University) Pepijn van Eeden (Université libre de Bruxelles) Julia Lajus (Higher School of Economics, St Petersburg) Jonathan Oldfield (University of Birmingham)