Colloquium: ''Socio-ecological interactions in the 4th dimension – The Grass snake and the Basilisk''

Tuesday 6 December 2022Add to my calendar
12:30 to
hybrid: online and in room HG02.537
Rob Lenders

Man's relationship with nature is not limited to the physical effects of human actions on nature or to nature as a provider of resources for humans. Nature also influences our thoughts and feelings, and the way we subsequently translate those thoughts and feelings into acts. Far too often, however, the human-nature relationship is reduced to an instrumental or purely physical relationship, even and especially when it comes to solving problems in this relationship. Moreover, our relationship with nature is neither of today nor of yesterday, but has an often very long and surprising history, a history that can also shed new light on possible solutions to environmental problems.

After briefly outlining a conceptual model for historical research on socio-ecological interactions, I will illustrate the possibilities of such research using a case study. The case study concerns the grass snake, a harmless snake with which humans in NW Europe have maintained very intensive relationships for thousands of years. For a long time, the grass snake was considered divine, which certainly did the species no harm, but with the abandonment of its divine status, the grass snake has come to be seen in an extremely detrimental light, which has severely affected the species for centuries. Knowing the history of the species in terms of (positive) relationships with humans and constructing and disseminating human-animal narratives, helps in improving the future prospects of the grass snake and of nature in general.