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The Forest as Habitat in Transylvania of the 18th Century: Society, Economy and Environment in the Edge of the Hapsburg Empire


The central point of the proposal is the analysis of the interdependencies between rural communities and the natural environment of the forest in the 18th century Transylvania, as well as the perils to which the environment was exposed as a consequence of this relationship. At the same time, one will study the modes of perception by which the people approached their environment, thus being exposed also the contemporary normative procedures of acting on the environment, with the possible result of a better understanding of the relativity of today’s concepts about nature and the environment. The domains by which the investigation begins will follow the anthropological constants that act at the structural level and often put in opposition the “utilization” of forest chiefly for economic purposes and the “conflict” generated by the fulfillment of these needs, as well as the moral, customary or juridical barriers that refers differently to the material resources of a community in general. The so-called anthropological constants that belong to the human nature and to the individual character can hide certain variables, favourable or unfavourable to the society, because they depend on the cultural system infused on various social levels, from micro- to macro social groups, everyone having different perceptions, which nevertheless sum up at the scale of the whole society. That’s why the present study will analyze how and to what extent the Enlightenment produced in Transylvania a mutation in the vision of the individual and the society about the environment. In the 18th century appears the concept of „durability of the forest”, which is important not only for the economic functions, but also for the ecologic and social ones. The study analyzes the policy of the Imperials from Vienna regarding the Transylvanian forests. The forest is perceived in a cultural fashion correlating the reception through documents with that through non-material culture.

Call for proposal

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Universitatsring 1
1010 Wien

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Ostösterreich Wien Wien
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Oliver Jens Schmitt (Prof.)
EU contribution
No data