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IMC 2021

Postcard advertising IMC 2021 call for papers, featuring extracts of images from Hildegard of Bingen and Beatus of Girona.IMC 2021 was hosted online via the virtual events platform, Pathable, which can be accessed from any modern web browser from a desktop/laptop computer. Once logged in, delegates were able to access all aspects of the IMC, including academic sessions, Bookfair and other exhibitions, events and workshop programme, and social and networking opportunities.

The IMC provides an interdisciplinary forum for the discussion of all aspects of Medieval Studies. Proposals on any topic related to the Middle Ages are welcome, while every year the IMC also chooses a special thematic focus. In 2021 this was ‘Climates’.

Climates are engendered by powerful interactions of heavens, oceans, and earth, and are themselves potent forces in complicated relationships with water, landscapes, patterns of weather, and human and non-human life. They affect, and are affected by, other climates – including of thought, opinion, feeling, belief, politics, society, and economics. Medievalists study populations across the globe that understood this interconnectedness in multiple ways, invested causal and explanatory power in observable phenomena, and lived in communities that were both vulnerable and responsive to shifting environmental conditions. Climates – in the many senses of the word – are now among the most pressing issues of our times. Expertise on the medieval period is becoming increasingly important to scientific and public conversations, while intensifying global instability threatens both the future study of a period long synonymous with irrelevancy, and the preservation of its material remains.

‘Climates’ can be explored on many levels, from the planetary to the intimately local, offering alternative routes to explore ideas of centres and peripheries, agency and determinism, connectivities, interdependencies and comparisons, as well as what constitutes the ‘global’ in this period. It was within dynamic environments and ecosystems that humans lived, moved, organised themselves, developed cosmologies, philosophies, and theologies, created material objects, literatures, and other records, extracted and exchanged the resources of different regions, competed for land and power, and faced disaster, displacement, and violence.

Themes to be addressed may include, but are not limited to:

  • Medieval concepts of ‘climes’ and ‘climate’
  • Cosmologies, world views, natural or supernatural causation
  • Medieval enquiry into weather, seasons, monsoon patterns
  • Astronomical and astrological observations and predictions
  • Agriculture, pastoralism, modification of landscapes, exploitation of resources, inequality, colonialism
  • Environmental determinism, medieval histories of modern inequalities
  • Societal organisation, hierarchy, law-making, governance
  • Applying paradigms of adaption, resilience, and collapse
  • Ecosystems, entanglements, human and non-human agency
  • ‘Climates’ of opinion, thought, feeling
  • Disease, pathogens, and microbes
  • Relationships between climate change and human history
  • Ecocriticism, critical race theory, indigenous knowledge, ecofeminism, queer ecology
  • Weather and weathering
  • Interdisciplinarity and integration of historical climate and environmental data
  • ‘Provincialising Europe’: Writing history on the ‘planetary’ or biospheric scale
  • ’Climates’ and interregional connectivities, interdependencies and disconnections
  • Fluctuations in migration, mobility, trade, exchange, and transmission
  • Seas, oceans, rivers, monsoon, floods as dynamic spaces
  • Medievalists, politics, climate justice, pedagogy, and activism
  • Preservation of material remains amid growing climate and societal instability

The Special Thematic Strand ‘Climates‘ was co-ordinated by Amanda Power (Faculty of History / St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford).