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Environmentalism in Central and Southeastern Europe

Historical Perspectives

Edited by Hrvoje Petrić and Ivana Žebec Šilj - Contributions by Ivan Brlić; Anita Tonković Bušljeta; Selçuk Dursun; Roman Holec; Katarina Polajnar Horvat; Vladimir Lay; Vine Mihaljević; Jelena Mrgić; Hrvoje Petrić; Luigi Piccioni; Milica Prokić; Jelena Puđak; Dorin Ioan Rus; Martin Schmid; Angelika Schoder; Vaso Seirinidou; Aleš Smrekar; Ivana Žebec Šilj and Matija Zorn

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Consisting of 12 chapters, the book presents the rise and development of environmentalism, environmental history as a discipline, and the history of environmental movements in the Central and South Eastern European region from an international point of view.

The chapters—written by scholars from Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Greece and Turkey—cover a wide range of topics including the creation of protected areas, increasing environmental consciousness, the evolution of humanity’s relationship toward the environment, and perceptions of environmentalism by different disciplines.

This international approach highlights the region’s complex development from the end of the eighteenth century through the twentieth century, with its unique blend of traditions. Three historically different traditions—the Habsburg, Ottoman and Venetian—converge in Central and South Eastern Europe, and this book emphasizes the subtleties of these sometimes intertwined traditions.

The focus of the book varies according to both the different geographical environments characteristic of the region and the protagonists who actively participated in changing relationships toward the environment. However, what does not vary and is common to all the chapters is the historical approach, since the process has continuity, which the book accentuates.

In geographical terms, the region that is the focus of the book, Central and South Eastern Europe, is the contact zone of the Alps, Danube, Adriatic and partially the North Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Throughout history, it was also the contact zone of the Habsburg, Ottoman and Venetian traditions. Those realities have resulted in a unique blending and intertwining of traditions and, therefore, relationships with and perceptions of the environment.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 304Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4985-2764-4 • Hardback • March 2017 • $110.00 • (£75.00)
978-1-4985-2765-1 • eBook • March 2017 • $109.99 • (£75.00)
Hrvoje Petrić is associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Zagreb.

Ivana Žebec Šilj is research fellow at the Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Science.
Preface, Ivana Žebec Šilj
Introduction, Hrvoje Petrić and Ivana Žebec Šilj
Part I: Environmentalism and Environmental Movements
Chapter 1: Where Technology and Environmentalism Meet: The Remaking of the Austrian Danube for Hydropower, Angelika Schoder and Martin Schmid
Chapter 2: Environmental Thought in Slovenia, Katarina Polajnar Horvat, Aleš Smrekar, and Matija Zorn
Chapter 3: Civil Society and Environmental Protection NGOs in Croatia, 1989–2014, Vladimir Lay and Jelena Puđak
Chapter 4: Religion and Ecology in Croatia, Vine Mihaljević
Chapter 5: Something Old, Something New: Historical Geography and Environmental History Discourse in Serbia, Jelena Mrgić
Chapter 6: Environmental Narratives and Sociopolitical Agendas in Greece in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, Vaso Seirinidou
Chapter 7: The History of Environmental Movements and the Development of Environmental thought in Turkey, 1850–1980, Selçuk Dursun
Part II: Nature Protection and Specific Landscapes
Chapter 8: Man and Nature in Central Europe during the Long Nineteenth Century from the Slovak Point of View, Roman Holec
Chapter 9: Protecting the Alps: Italian-Protected Areas in the Alpine Range, 1911–91, Luigi Piccioni
Chapter 10: The Origins and Developmental Course of Plitvice Lakes National Park: From “The Devil’s Garden” to the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Register, Ivan Brlić and Anita Tonković Bušljeta
Chapter 11: Contrasting the “Sunny Side”: Goli otok and the Islandness of a Political Prison in the Croatian Adriatic Sea, Milica Prokić
Chapter 12: The Development of the Concept of Forest Sustainability in Transylvania, the Banat, Bukovina, Moldavia, and Wallachia until 1918, Dorin Ioan Rus
This is an unmatched book that opens up the environmental histories of various modern countries from the eighteenth century to the present. Both an intellectual history of how people have thought about their environments and a material history of how they have lived with them, the empirical stories offered here reveal an enormous amount about Central and Southeastern Europe and offer environmental historians of other places and times new ideas for thinking about the role of nature in history and the role of history in nature. This study is an important contribution to global environmental history.
Alan Mikhail, Yale University


While concentrating on environmental issues in East-Central and Southeastern Europe from a modern historical viewpoint, this book is a unique collection of essays that fills a considerable gap in discussions of the history of environmentalism in Europe. These studies provide thought-provoking inside views into the development of environmental thought, particularly related to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with cases extending back to as early as the eighteenth century. They cover a wide spatial and thematic range of topics; among the areas studied are Austria, Croatia, Greece, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy, Turkey, and beyond, and thematic overviews in such fields as technology and environmentalism, environmental protection, religion and ecology, national parks, and forest sustainability are included. This collection is an essential work of the history of European or global environmentalism.
Andrea Kiss, Vienna University of Technology


Finally, a comprehensive volume that uncovers the histories of environmentalism in countries that have been mostly left out from Anglophone accounts. From Croatia to Greece, Turkey to Slovenia, the authors of this collection shed light on the multiplicity of environmentalist experiences in those countries, connecting them to the diverse cultural, religious, and political contexts. This study is a crucial contribution to a more inclusive global history of environmentalism.
Marco Armiero, Royal Institute of Technology


The collection combines scholarship about both sides of the former Iron Curtain, still so persistent in many minds. It should and will inspire further research, including work by the younger generation of environmental historians working under increasingly difficult circumstances.
Verena Winiwarter, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt


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