Swiss Commons

Swiss Commons

Summer School "Commons" 2023

Common pool resources in the «visual turn» – collective alpine pastures, forests and waters in the first half of the 20th century

Summer school of the European Society for Environmental History ESEH in cooperation with the research platform Swiss Commons in a European Context, the Swiss Rural History Society SRHS and financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the institute Cultures of the Alps.


Date: 16–20 August 2023
Location: Grimentz, Val d’Anniviers, Switzerland

The history of Common Pool Resources (CPR) has been discussed under the aspect of sustainability since Elinor Ostrom's «Governing the commons» (1990) and increasingly since she was awarded the Nobel Prize for it (2009). If one considers the classic collective resources of alpine pastures, forests and waters from this perspective, one is immediately struck by the extraordinarily dynamic development they have undergone during the 20th century. The Summer School in Val d'Anniviers focuses on this transformation, which we analyse in the sense of the «visual turn» in environmental history using local historical photo collections dating from the first half of the 20th century.

Organisers: Martin Stuber (University of Bern, history), Rahel Wunderli (University of Bern, history)

Lecturers: Ben Anderson (University of Keel, history), Roberta Biasillo (University of Utrecht, history), Ulrike Felsing (HKB Bern, arts), Karina Liechti (University of Bern & Swiss Foundation for Landscape Conservation, geography), Tobias Haller (University of Bern, social anthropology), Jesper Larsson (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, history), Luigi Lorenzetti (Università della Svizzera Italiana/ Laboratorio di Storia delle Alpi, Mendrisio, history), Gaëtan Morard (Bisses du Valais, ethnobiology), Monica Vasile (University of Maastricht, environmental anthropology)

Participants: Viktor Andersson (Oslo), Vanessa Bateman (Maastricht), Suraj Bhati (Delhi), Budhaditya Das (Delhi), Michael Flütsch (Bern), David Fontan Bestilleiro (Santiago de Compostela), Libardo Andres Gomez-Estrada (Toronto), Matias Gonzales (Bristol), Noemi Imboden (Sion), Saurav Kumar (Mizoram), Lucia Leoni (Fribourg), Patricia Monteiro (Lisbon), Agnes Nemeth (Budapest), Mars Plater (Connecticut), William Renström (Uppsala), Roque Sanfiz Arias (Santiago de Compostela), Mateja Šmid Hribar (Ljubljana), Andy Thatcher (Bristol), Anna Varga (Pécs), Morgan P. Vickers (Berkeley)

The participants of the Summer school presented four visual features in a concise pecha cucha format to some interested local guests at the Tour d'Anniviers in Vissoie on 19 August 2023. These presentations are not the result of extensive local research. Rather, they represent a first attempt to relate the view of the global commons research to the collective resources in Val d'Anniviers.

We would like to thank Médiathèque Valais and, where most of the historical photographs used here can be found online. The photographs were financed by the programme RECTO VERSO of the Swiss Academy of Social Sciences and Humanities SAGW.