Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute

Image of Black Sea coast. Image links to event page.



Between the Black Sea and the Bering Strait: Environmental Histories Across a Subcontinent

Please join the Harriman Institute for a conference: “Between the Black Sea and the Bering Strait: Environmental Histories Across a Subcontinent.” Organized by Catherine Evtuhov and Julia Lajus.

Conference Schedule

Day One

Reserve Your Seat

December 8, 2023

Columbia University

Deutsches Haus

420 W 116th St

2:00 – 2:15pm | Opening

  • Valentina Izmirlieva (Columbia University)


2:15 – 3:45pm | Session 1: Climate Histories Across a Subcontinent

Moderator: Julia Lajus (Columbia University)

  • Pey-Yi Chu (Pomona College, CA), Toward Crucial Climate Histories of Eurasia
  • Jonathan Oldfield (University of Birmingham, UK), Geoengineering the Climate: Soviet and Russian Perspectives
  • Ryan Jones (University of Oregon), The Russian Far East and the Shock Decarbonization of the 1990s


4:00 – 5:30pm | Presentation of the book Thinking Russia’s History Environmentally

  • Catherine Evtuhov (Columbia University)
  • David Moon (University College London, UK)
  • Julia Lajus (Columbia University)
  • John McNeill (Georgetown University)
  • Jane Costlow (Bates College, ME)
  • Anna Olenenko (University of Alberta, Canada)
  • Anna Mazanik (Max Weber Foundation/LMU Munich, Germany)
  • Ronald Meyer (Columbia University)
  • Jennifer Goetz (Columbia University)


5:30 – 6:15pm | Screening of the Film Anarcadia

  • Ruth Maclennan, artist (Institute Associate, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, UK)


Day Two

Reserve Your Seat

December 9, 2023

Columbia University

The Harriman Institute

420 W 118th St, 12th Floor, Room 1219

9:00 – 10:30am | Session 2: Technology and Environment in Soviet/Post-Soviet Contexts

Moderator: Andy Bruno (Northern Illinois University)

  • Elena Kochetkova (University of Bergen, Norway), The Green Power of Socialism: Wood, Forest, and the Making of Soviet Industrially Embedded Ecology
  • Julia Lajus (Columbia University), Use of Science and Technology for Increasing Biological Productivity of Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems in the Late Soviet Union
  • Artemy Kalinovsky (Temple University), Maintenance and Markets: The Water Energy Nexus in Central Asia after Socialism


10:45am – 12:30pm | Roundtable: Land, Space, Scale and the Methodology of Environmental Humanities

Moderator: Catherine Evtuhov (Columbia University)

  • Bathsheba Demuth (Brown University), Land as Method in Environmental History
  • Mieka Erley (Colgate University), Reading Against the Grain: Film and the Natural Trace
  • Jane Costlow (Bates College, ME), Messy reading and the unexpected [context, connection, collaboration]
  • Jennifer Keating (University College Dublin, Ireland), Thinking environmentally about space and scale


1:15 – 2:45pm | Session 3: Environmental Transformations, Disasters, Ecocide

Moderator: Anna Mazanik (Max Weber Foundation/LMU Munich, Germany)

  • Dmitry Arzyutov (Ohio State University), Thinking with Novaya Zemlya in the Anthropocene: A Palimpsest of Environmental Transformations of the Arctic Archipelago
  • Sarah Cameron (University of Maryland), Aral: Life and Death of a Sea
  • Anna Olenenko (University of Alberta, Canada), Kakhovka Dam Disaster: Cycles of Ecocide


3:00 – 4:30pm | Contributions of Our Field to Global Environmental History

Moderator: John McNeill (Georgetown University)

  • David Moon (University College London, UK), Were the Steppe Rivers Drying Up? Debates over Environmental Change in the Russian Empire
  • Taylor Zajicek (Columbia University), The Black Sea at the Cold War’s End—Local Oddity or Global Catastrophe?
  • Andy Bruno (Northern Illinois University), From Place-Based to the Planetary: The Tunguska Explosion in Global Environmental History


4:30 – 4:45pm | Closing