Critical perspectives on the alpine damscape – An environmental and social history of hydropower in the Alps after 1880

As part of the SNSF-Ambizione research project "Staudämme und Verdrängungsprozesse im Alpenraum nach 1880 – zwischen Teilhabe und Ausgrenzung peripherer Gesellschaften", we are organising the workshop "Critical perspectives on the Alpine damscape: An environmental and social history of hydropower in the Alps after 1880" at the Historical Institute of the University of Bern.

27. September 2024

Uni Mittelstrasse, Mittelstrasse 43, seminar room 216

Apart from economic and technical historical viewpoints, the history of hydroelectricity in the Alps also shows how the widely interconnected and densely populated mountain range underwent socio-natural transformations during the age of High Modernity. In some places, the construction of dams and reservoirs led to the depopulation or displacement of entire valleys and villages. In other places, the new lakes and industrialized rivers brought financial income, cheap electricity, as well as infrastructural development and job opportunities. The workshop takes a critical look at the ambivalent development caused by the extraction of “white coal” and its numerous promises of modernisation. Within this historical context the losses and benefits of hydropower and its various stakeholders will become visible along single case studies.

Thematically, the workshop will focus on the environmental and social aspects of Alpine hydropower and its infrastructures after 1880. In addition, the workshop will open a new chapter in the energy history of the Alps and contribute to the current debates on environmental justice and sustainable energy regimes.

Please contact Sara Šifrar Krajnik to register for the workshop:

Picture: Pieve di Cadore arch dam on the Piave river, construction work – Source: ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv, Ans_15318-39-AL-FL