Sander Govaerts, ASH PhD candidate, will defend the dissertation entitled 'Mosasaurs. Interactions between Armies and Ecosystems in the Meuse Region, 1250-1850' supervised by Prof. Guy Geltner and Prof. Mieke Aerts.
|Date||21 May 2019|
'Mosasaurs. Interactions Between Armies and Ecosystems in the Meuse Region, 1250-1850' argues that armies' conscious and concerted protection and conservation of ecosystems long predates the rise of modern environmentalism, and that this supposedly modern behaviour is just one element in a complex web of interconnections between armed forces and their surrounding world. The ecosystem concept provides a good theoretical framework to organize this multifaceted relationship, but it is too complex to apply directly to historical sources. The thesis is thus divided into five chapters (frontiers, fortifications, disturbances, policing, and army health) that together represent the three levels encompassed in the notion of ecosystem: landscapes, biotic communities, and pathogens. The Meuse Region, or the basin of the Meuse River, comprising parts of France, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, serves a geographical context in order to avoid the common emphasis on political structures. The choice for 1250 and 1850 as chronological limits reflects the general emphasis on continuity between the High Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period. By studying armies from a holistic perspective across traditional political, chronological, and linguistic boundaries, this thesis provides an alternative view on the military and environmental history of the premodern period, and encourages contemporary military forces to make more efforts to reduce their environmental footprint.