The postdoc will be part of the ERC research project “Anthropogenic Heathlands: The Social Organization of Super-Resilient Past Human Ecosystems” (ANTHEA). Across the planet, pastoral regimes are currently transforming into other types of land-holding, while privatisation processes are rapidly turning former large-scale, collectively governed pastures into parcelled-up areas. This increases the need for knowledge about the long-term resilience and vulnerability of human-nature entanglements and (common forms of) land governance. A northwest-European pendant, the anthropogenic heathlands, emerged more than 4,000 years ago, when small-scale agropastoral communities in Northern Europe began the first fire-based management of naturally occurring heather. Some of these grazing regimes, spanning thousands of hectares, existed until the 18th-19th century. Without frequent disturbances, anthropogenic heathland will turn into dwarf shrub or forest. So the survival of these areas suggests the existence of highly specialised forms of human-nature entanglements and social organisation with the unique capacity to persist. This project envisages a new understanding of the social organisation of past grazing and fire-management regimes, and seeks to radically alter our knowledge of emergent, long-term human-nature entanglements and ecologies thriving on disturbance.
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