Environmentalism from the East? Historical perspectives on sustainability challenges in CEE, 3.12.2021
In this webinar on December 3, 2021, Dr. Viktor Pál talked about “Environmentalism from the East? Conservation, Waste and Communism in Cold War Eastern Europe”. In his speech, he addressed the socialist states approach towards environmental protection in the 1950-70 period, with a special focus on Hungary.
Viktor Pál, PhD is a research fellow at the University of Ostrava, coordinator for the Helsinki Environmental Humanities Hub at the University of Helsinki and Docent at the University of Tampere. In his speech he addressed the socialist states approach towards environmental protection in the 1950-70 period, with a special focus on Hungary. Open Access Preprints by Pál can be found at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Viktor-Pal-2
The Soviet bloc has often been interpreted by social scientists as “dirty”, placed in opposition to the “clean” and “superior” West when it comes to the environment. While it is true that the Soviet Union and its Eastern European allies such as East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary committed terrible ecological crimes while pursuing extensive and rapid economic growth, Eastern European states also developed and employed complex environmental protection and recycling systems.
First, Pál discussed the attitudes and discourses of scientists towards the natural environment in modern Hungary while focusing on an especially vibrant period of scientific discourse under the Cold War, between the 1950s and 1970s. He explored the development of Hungarian scientific ideas related to the environment, and the impact of foreign influences on the development of a Hungarian scientific thought which eventually combined Western and Soviet science.
In the second part of the talk, Pál analyzed the professional, political and popular discussions of recycling by focusing on paper waste in state-socialist Hungary. He connected this case study with the changing cultures of waste, discards, and recycling around the globe.
When you are interested in the background of his research, watch a brief video, in which Viktor Pál describes the historical perspective on sustainability challenges: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaA1m9MZFMk
Viktor Pál is also a keen documentarian of the legacy of communist history in short videos on YouTube, e.g. “Yugoslavia's First Socialist Town: Nova Gorica with dr. Blaž Kosovel” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jevQrcAVDsM&t=204s or on communist architecture “Estonia's formerly closed uranium city: Sillamäe (Sillamae)” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtPSw3LVWeY&t=355s