Scientific axes

Axis 1: Territories, environment, adaptation

The very goal of this axis is to examine the long-term relationships between societies and their environments, from the Holocene period and until now, with a double objective to recreate a socio-environmental history of territories, and put into perspective the current dynamics - by bringing elements from theoretical and technical thoughts - about the process of sustainable and harmonious development (environmental, economic, social or cultural) of territories, by concentrating on transition mechanisms and the adaptation of territories and societies. A particular attention shall be devoted to cultural factors within the organization of territories and the role endorsed by the representations that the actors have of these spaces. This axis is tackled in a particular way, through the prism of transitions and adaptations, by encouraging a multilevel spatiotemporal approach. The platform called IntelEspace has a significant role in this axis, which is particularly connected to the following fields:

  • The long-term coevolution of societies and environment in order to highlight the impact of environmental changes on the development strategies of societies and the responses of these environments to human interventions, with a primary focus on archeology and paleoenvironmental research. A particular interest is devoted to the anthropogenic impacts and environmental risks, in order to highlight the influence of the current changes in variables controlling the environment dynamic on new trajectories of evolution, including risk escalation.
  • The interdisciplinary analysis of the development process of territories – whether they may be economic, social or environmental – with a particular interest in rural spaces, mountainous areas and small cities. The analysis of the spatial dynamic regarding the development of territories is primarily achieved through a mind gathering between geographers, economists, historians, architects, and agronomists. 
  • The representation of territories through numerous works, cartographical projects, and the role of representations in the management of territories and the perception of the environment. The emphasis is put on the spatial dimension of cultural movements and achievements (literature, drama, music…) and the methodological contribution of this dimension to the analysis of such phenomena.

This axis is articulated around a seminar, as well as scientific events and interdisciplinary programs.

Supervision: Sophie Chiari and the comity in charge of the animation of the axes.

Axis 2: Ruptures, revolutions, innovation

This axis concentrates on the study of brutal and radical changes leading to the rupture a global system’s coherence. This broad field shall be studied through all its dimensions at an individual and social group level, and within political, social, esthetic, psychological and environmental fields. While the first definition of the word “revolution” refers to a cosmic logic of perpetual movement, the modern definition is opposed to these concepts of cycle and linearity and refers to the idea of deflection and the establishment of a new order. Coined as early as the 16th century as a synonym of “sudden change, disruption” on an individual level, the use of the word started to extend to political ruptures in the 17th century, yet it only took this meaning in the political context of the second half of the 18th century. Later, “revolution” was associated to every sudden change occurring within human societies: industrial revolution, surrealist revolution, religious revolution… While the astronomical revolution corresponds to the methodical completion of a trajectory, the modern revolution refers to a rupture or a deviation/deflection. It arrives before the establishment of a new order. Revolution can thus be related to the moment when an individual or a large part of a social group stop believing in the global coherence of the world they live in. It corresponds to the very moment when they start to question the systems of dominant values, norms, legitimacies, hierarchical and esthetic landmarks, and it can go as far as the perception of time and the forms of transcendence that interrogate the place of mankind within the universe.

The rupture provokes a backlash which contributes to shape, reorganize, and give a meaning to a recent past by defining it according to the previous rupture. The political revolution, the scientific or technological revolution can be more easily identified by the actors. However, other forms of revolution (esthetic, religious, language, ecological, pedagogical…) have a weaker short-term visibility and can be very deep, always interacting with one another. Finally, the revolution shall be studied in its entire temporality. It dismantles an ancient order and triggers the emergence of a new one which might be embodied in a long or short period of time. It is through this very process that revolution meets innovation. It is a way to question the notion of a global system, on the scale of a society, an individual, a natural site and the elements that might condition its balance - always temporarily - or its rupture. These works are connected to the computing platform of the MSH and prioritize the methodological and epistemological potential provided by “digital humanities” (database, corpus, graphic exploitation of data and related mathematical tools).

This axis is structured around a seminar, as well as scientific events and interdisciplinary programs.

Supervision: Sophie Chiari and the comity in charge of the animation of the axes.