Transboundary Natures: The Consequences of the Iron Curtain for Landscape

Authors: Astrid M. Eckert*, Emory University
Topics: Landscape, Military Geography, East Europe
Keywords: Iron Curtain, borderlands, Green Belt conservation project
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Zulu, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The talk investigates the ecological footprint of the Iron Curtain and the consequences of the border regime for landscape and wildlife. It moves beyond the quotidian claim that the Iron Curtain divided ecosystems and landscapes by arguing that the fortifications and all activities that kept them functional became causal – in direct or in mitigated fashion – to changes in the natural environment adjacent to the border. Not the fact that a border runs through a landscape but the consequences for landscape stand at the center of attention. The talk’s vanishing point is the Green Belt conservation project that materialized on the heels of the GDR’s (East Germany’s) collapse and that this talk seeks to historicize. It makes clear that the Iron Curtain was first and foremost a military installation with a political function that was placed into Central European landscapes that had themselves been shaped by human interference for centuries. The border’s effect was neither purely detrimental nor exclusively beneficial for nature and wildlife, hence neither a declensionist nor a creationist narrative captures the dynamic influence of the border regime.

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