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Wilko Graf von Hardenberg

My main disciplinary affiliation is European modern environmental history, but I could also be termed a social historian, a historical geographer, or a digital humanist.

At the core of my various research interests lies the desire to understand how nature has been historically perceived, appraised, and managed and how each of these aspects has affected the other two. Consequently I have worked on different facets of modern European environmental history, including the politics of fascist regimes, the history of access rights, and the preservation of iconic animal species in the Alps. Moreover, I have a thriving interest in the use of digital tools and methods in historical research.

My current research focusses on the intellectual history of the Anthropocene and, in general, of theories of anthropogenic environmental change. This project stems from a research on the development of the concept of mean sea-level, started during my time as Scholar-in-Residence at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, and has taken further shape teaching, in the last couple of years, history of climate science and modern global environmental history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

I hold an Italian Laurea in history (Università di Torino) and a PhD in geography (University of Cambridge). Immediately before coming to the MPIWG I was DAAD Visiting Professor of Environmental History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Previously I have been first a Carson Fellow and then the Digital Humanities Research Specialist at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich. I also was a post-doc, funded by the Autonomous Province of Trento, at the University of Trento, Italy, and a post-graduate fellow at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy. I am co-founder and editor of the blog Ant, Spider, Bee: Exploring the Digital Environmental Humanities and the curator of the joint project of the Rachel Carson Center and the European Society for Environmental History Arcadia: Explorations in Environmental History.


  • –present
    Senior Research Scholar, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin
  • 2013–2015
    Visiting assistant professor, University of Wisconsin Madison
  • 2011–2013
    Digital Humanities Research Specialist, Rachel Carson Center for Environmenta and Society
  • 2010–2013
    Research associate, LabiSAlp - Università della Svizzera Italiana
  • 2010–2011
    Carson Fellow, Rachel Carson Center for Environmenta and Society
  • 2008–2010
    Postdoctoral fellow, Università di Trento


  • 2007 
    University of Cambridge, Ph.D. Geography
  • 2002 
    Università di Torino, Laurea in History