of the research theme

The German-French team has three research objectives in view of the unique circumstances shaping the Soviet and post-Soviet eras, such as a struggling welfare state, high levels of contamination, a disintegrating political order and socio-economic disruptions:

  1. investigate how political decisions and economic processes created toxic relationships between humans and nature and hence “inescapable ecologies” (political and social history);
  2. examine how individual and collective actors experienced exposure to toxins and sickness and how they turned their dismay into social action (history of experience); and
  3. determine the historical place of the Soviet Union and its successor states within the research field envirohealth and consider how an “East Side Story” gives access to processes, phenomena and problems that fall through the analytical grid created for Western societies (comparative and transnational history)

The cooperation project focuses on three sub-studies, which are combined into two project areas and broadly cover the (post)Soviet region with Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
Project area A: The Chemicalisation of the Environment and the Human Body

  • Study 1: The Health Consequences of Agrochemicals
  • Study 2: The Chemicalisation of the Body and Cancer Treatment

Project area B: Polluted Air, Endangered Health and Social Protest

  • Study 3a: Bratsk: Planned Giants and Industrial Polluters in Eastern Siberia
  • Study 3b: Ust‘-Kamenogorsk/Oskemen: The Altay Military Factory in East Kazakhstan

The four project participants are supported by three German-French expert teams. Their ten members will contribute methodological and thematic knowledge on the history of the body, health systems and environmental pollution to the cooperation project.

The three research objectives will be achieved by exploring:

  1. the creation of “inescapable ecologies” through the rise of agrochemical, energy and industrial-military complexes;
  2. the social problematization of the causality between environmental toxins and physical reactions;
  3. the importance of environmental problems for health system reforms;
  4. the controversial negotiation and problematic implementation of threshold values and regulations;
  5. the development of alternative doctrines of salvation and new body discourses and practices.

The cooperation project combines separately handled approaches to a coherent research design. This includes approaches to the history of knowledge, gender and body history as well as the concepts of “biological citizenship” and “environmental justice”.
The organisational objective is to expand the European research network established during the first funding phase. The pooling of research competencies will promote Franco-German cooperation in the field of Eastern European history.