BAA Conference 2010


Thursday, 9 July - Saturday, 10 July 2010

The conference will focus on environmental knowledge production in the U.S. by taking as starting points the impact of natural catastrophes and of public debates on climate change and environmental threats. Papers will address the social, political, economic, ecological, and cultural effects of natural catastrophes.

At stake will be issues such as disaster management and politics, disaster as spectacle, and the popular imagination of catastrophe which point to the role of language, texts, and the media in creating and limiting knowledge about environmental issues and about the political, economic, and ethical dimensions of the human-nature relationship.

In bringing together historians and geographers, literary and cultural studies scholars, political scientists, anthropologists, and scientists from the United States and Europe, the conference will demonstrate that the human experience and imagination of environment have played a truly important role in American culture.

In the public forum that will close the conference and focus on a transatlantic perspective, we shall compare "Green Cultures" in Germany and America and we will ask ourselves what we can learn from one another.


The annual conference of the Bavarian American Academy (BAA) in 2010 is organized and sponsored by Rachel Carson Center Munich and the Bayerische Amerika-Akademie / Bavarian American Academy (BAA).



No conference fee - please register for participation.


Detailed Conference Program (296KB)


Conference Program

Friday, 9 July 2010

9.00 Welcome

  • Klaus Benesch, Director of the Bavarian American Academy
  • Christof Mauch, Director of the Rachel Carson Center
  • Representative of the Bavarian Ministry of Sciences, Research, and the Arts

9.45 Panel I: Natural Hazards and the Making of America  
Chair: Heike Paul (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)


  • Sherry Johnson (Florida International University/ Rachel Carson Center): Foreign Interest and the Cuban Earthquake of 1880: Dis-remembering Disaster in the Age of Laissez-Faire
  • Lawrence Culver (Utah State University / Rachel Carson Center): Manifest Disaster: Climate and the Making of America

11.15 Coffee Break
11.45 Panel II: Ambivalent Legacies: Environmental Imperialism and Notions of Progress

Chair: Klaus Benesch (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)

  • Andrew Isenberg (Temple University, Philadelphia / Rachel Carson Center): Buffalo Commons: The Past, Present, and the Future of an Idea
  • Gordon Winder (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich / Rachel Carson Center): The Other Machine in the Garden: The Reaper, the Great West, Wilderness, and the American Mind

Lunch Break

15.00 Panel III: Understanding Disaster - Explaining Politics

Chair: Barbara Hahn (University of Würzburg)

  • Heike Egner (Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz / Rachel Carson Center): Natural Disasters and Cultures of Risk: A Radical Constructivist"s Perspective on Risk
  • Andreas Falke (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg): Why is the U.S. a Laggard in Climate Change Policy or is it?

16.30 Coffee Break

17.00 Panel IV: Forgetting and Remembering Catastrophes

Chair: Volker Depkat (University of Regensburg)

  • Uwe Lübken (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich / Rachel Carson Center): The 1937 Ohio River Flood: A Forgotten Disaster?
  • Craig Colten (Louisiana State University): Forgetting the Unforgettable: Losing Social Memory and Resilience in New Orleans

18.45 BAA MEMBERS´MEETING (Members only!)


9.00 Panel V: Environmental Knowledge and the Imagination: Literature and Film

Chair: Sylvia Mayer (University of Bayreuth)

  • Stacy Alaimo (University of Texas at Arlington): Trans-corporeal Knowledges: Science, Environment, and the Material Self
  • Alexa Weik (University of Fribourg / Rachel Carson Center): Facing The Day After Tomorrow: Filmed Disaster, Emotional Engagement, and Climate Risk Perception

10.30 Coffee Break
11.00 Greetings, U.S. Consul General Conrad Tribble
         Awards Ceremony: 2010 BAA Dissertation Award
11.15 Keynote Address:
Klaus Töpfer (Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam / Former Under Secretary General United Nations): Sustainable Development - The New Name For Peace?!
12.00 Podiumsdiskussion:
Was können Deutschland und die USA im Bereich Umwelt voneinander lernen?

Moderation: Jeanne Rubner (Süddeutsche Zeitung)

  • Albert Göttle (Bayerisches Landesamt für Umwelt)
  • Christof Mauch (Rachel Carson Center / Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)
  • Karsten Smid (Greenpeace Deutschland)

13.00 End of Conference


The following organizations support the conference


 Bayerisch-Amerikanisches Zentrum
im Amerika Haus München e.V.
     U.S. Consulate General, Munich