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Fig 2: CRIAS uses the archives of societies. Image credit: ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv / Fotograf: Unbekannt / Dia_262-0562 / Public Domain Mark.

Call for papers: Climate and conflict revisited - Perspectives from the past and the present

Call for papers: Climate and conflict revisited - Perspectives from the past and the present

Workshop date: 11-12 May 2023
Location: Oslo, Norway
Call for abstracts: 1 March 2023
Acceptance decision: 31 March 2023


The link between climate change and conflict has become a major topic of scholarly and public debate. Fears of climate-driven conflict frame contemporary security concerns and fuel dystopian media depictions. Current debates have been informed – often implicitly – by historical precedents. Historians of the past decade have rediscovered the field of climate and conflict, especially in studies of the early modern “Little Ice Age” (White 2011, Parker 2013).

Since then, both qualitative and quantitative approaches have experienced a renaissance. In the field of conflict studies, popular syntheses have made the case for a causal chain linking deteriorating climate, diminishing resources, and an increased risk for armed conflict (Welzer 2012, Dyer 2010). Correlations between the 2010 drought and food crisis and the following Arab Spring have served as a popular case study.

Nevertheless, research in the field has been limited by disciplinary constraints. Historians lack shared methods to analyze and assess causation in socionatural systems; modern conflict studies often use historical evidence and analogies uncritically. An informed integration of both fields remains unrealized and both modern and historical linkages have yet to achieve consensus (Warde 2015, Selby et al 2017). Popular narratives of inevitable collapse and determinist tropes of decline are left to fill the gap in interdisciplinary research. In response, scholars have suggested improved modeling and data capture (von Uexkull, Buhaug 2021), additional close-up studies at higher resolutions (Collet 2019), and a tighter transdisciplinary integration of evidence between the fields.

This workshop will revisit the climate-conflict nexus, bringing together fields of climate history and conflict studies. The workshop will encourage researchers at all career stages to reflect on research designs that can integrate diverse methods and sources, both quantitative and qualitative. 

We invite contributions that attempt to pool evidence, investigate cross-disciplinary  potential, and reflect on future shared methodologies. Our goal is to improve integrative approaches, establish an improved historical ‘baseline’ for current claims and projections, and challenge determinist imaginaries and broaden the current debate about climate and conflict – both modern and historical.

We invite contributions to areas such as:

  • Case studies of the climate-conflict nexus, both historical and modern
  • Methodological reflections on use of evidence/data in natural and societal archives Conceptual approaches to climate-conflict interactions 
  • The integration of quantitative and qualitative / past and present evidence Historiographical approaches to climate and conflict · Investigations of climate-conflict narratives, past and present
  • Instances of learning from past events

The workshop is hosted jointly by the CLIMCULT project at the University of Oslo and the CRIAS group (Climate Reconstruction and Impacts from the Archives of Societies) of the PAGES (Past Global Changes) network.

Confirmed speakers include Florian Krampe (SIPRI Stockholm, keynote address).

Participation is free of charge. Travel grants are available for early career researchers. 

Online sessions are planned for overseas participants.

Please send your one-page summary of your presentation and a short CV by 1 March 2023 to:

Organisers: Prof Dominik Collet (University of Oslo), Prof Sam White (University of Helsinki) 

> Visit the CRIAS webpage 
> Go to workshop calendar entry
Download Call for Papers

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