Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Bielefeld University, Center for InterAmerican Studies
Website URL
environmental history, climate history, disaster history, history of knowledge and science, insurance history, French and Spanish colonial history of North America and the Caribbean
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

I am professor for Entangled History in the Americas and director of the Center for InterAmerican Studies (CIAS) at Bielefeld University. My research focus is on environmental and climate history and geographically most of my research so far has been on North America and is now shifting into the Caribbean.

Experience in the private economy sector as a climate policy analyst accounts for my interest in connecting research on environmental and climatic changes of the past with questions of the present.

General research interests are how societies have dealt with climatic extreme events throughout history, deep-time perspectives on human-environment interaction including the history of science, technological evolution, the history of ideas of Geoengineering and understanding how we arrived in the Anthropocene…

My current book project focuses on what notions of “nature” and what agricultural practices Spanish and French settlers brought to to Hispaniola/ Saint Domingue and how both shaped – and at the same time were re-shaped by – the unfamiliar local environment and climate. The focus is hence, on the parallel transformation of societies and natural environments and the tight entanglement and mutual permeation of these spheres through imported and newly developed practices in the succeeding centuries (1500-1804).

Research for my second book included the cultural adaptation to hurricanes in New Orleans across a time-span of 300 years (1718-2005). Important aspects were social complexity, political vulnerability, the path dependence of practice and insurance as a form of adaptation. The book was published in the Environment in History Series of the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society (RCC) in November 2018.

My first book, “Sharing the Risk”, focused on the Swiss Reinsurance Company (today Swiss Re)’s early struggles with fire reinsurance in Europe and the US amidst climatic anomalies, developing (re-) insurance markets and its own early evolution as a company.

Recent Publications

Changes in the Air. Hurricanes in New Orleans from 1718 to the Present, (Series Environmental History: International Perspectives 15), ed. by Dolly Jorgensen, Christof Mauch, David Moon und Helmuth Trischler (eds.).
New York/ Oxford: Berghahn Books 2018.

together with George Adamson und Matthew Hannaford “Re-thinking the Present: The Role of a Historical Focus in Climate Change Adaptation Research”, in Global Environmental Change (January 2018), DOI 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2017.12.003.

“Adapting to Hurricanes. A Historical Perspective on New Orleans from its Foundation to Hurricane Katrina, 1718-2005”, in: WIRE’s Climate Change, (September 2017), DOI DOI 10.1002/wcc.488

Sharing the Risk. Fire, Climate and Disaster. Swiss Re, 1864-1906.
Lancashire: Carnegie Publishing/Crucible Books, 2011.

Media Coverage
Country Focus
U.S. Gulf South and the Caribbean
Expertise by Geography
Caribbean, United States
Expertise by Chronology
18th century, 19th century, 20th century
Expertise by Topic
American Founding Era, Colonialism, Economic History, Science