Francesco Carrer (School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Newcastle University (UK))

Economy, ecology, and landscapes: a view from the uplands

Abstract:  The uplands are generally considered persistent places, where the imprint of historical processes is less marked or even absent. Upland landscapes are often seen as pristine, and when the historical interaction between humans and upland environments is acknowledged, it is primarily perceived as a linear route towards adaptation. In a nutshell, human activities in the uplands seem immovable, and their effect on the ecological and structural character of the uplands are thought to be less severe than in the lowlands.

These preconceptions are being debunked by new historical, archaeological, and ecological research carried out in the uplands over the last few decades. In this presentation I will provide an overview of different case studies, from the Alps to the Taurus mountains, to show how the uplands have been influenced by macroeconomic and political dynamics as much as the lowlands. This in turn will lead me to challenge the idea of “traditional” land management in the uplands, often associated with the assumption of sustainability and resilience of traditional practices.