Wetlands in History

Working Group

Wetlands, a distinct ecosystem that is permanently or seasonally flooded by water, exist in myriad variations regardless of temperate zone all around the globe. Classified by their source of water, they range from tidal wetlands and estuaries to riverine floodplains and from groundwater-fed fens and seeps to rain- or meltwater saturated bogs and vernal ponds. In past centuries, ruling actors often equated wetlands with wastelands, representing obstacles to urbanization, agrarianism, and the exertion of state power, ultimately aiming to change these landscapes through amelioration and drainage. Consequently, vast wetland territories have been lost.


To ecologists today, wetlands are “the superheroes of the natural world”. Crammed with wildlife, wetlands are among the most biodiverse ecosystems of our planet. Functioning as buffering zones, they protect coastlines and lessen the effects of cyclones and hurricanes on coastal dwellers. Through their filtering qualities, wetlands clean rivers and estuaries and as natural carbon-captures, they store climate-changing amounts of carbon.


The Wetlands in History working group engages with these slippery landscapes from the early modern to the contemporary period, fascinated by and focused on their in-between nature as neither land nor sea. We regularly meet at the IEK for joint reading sessions or share or work. Meet us next at the Long Night of Sciences 2024 in downtown Augsburg.


The working group is a collaboration between the IEK and the Environmental Science Center (WZU) at the University of Augsburg [ https://www.uni-augsburg.de/de/forschung/einrichtungen/institute/wzu/]. It grew out of the Day of European Cultural History 2022 which focused on water [ https://www.uni-augsburg.de/de/forschung/einrichtungen/institute/iek/veranstaltungen/tagekg/t/].


DFG-Heisenberg Professor
Global Environmental History and Environmental Humanities

Members of the Working Group

Direktor und Geschäftsführender Wissenschaftlicher Sekretär
Institut für Europäische Kulturgeschichte
Professorin, Leiterin des Bukowina-Instituts
Verflechtungsgeschichte Deutschlands mit dem östlichen Europa
Geschichte der Frühen Neuzeit
Environmental Science Center