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Kevin Niebauer

Kevin Niebauer
Image Credit: © Kevin Niebauer

International Research Training Group "Between Spaces"

Movements, Actors and Representations of Globalisation

PhD Candidate

Project: "How the Green Hell became a Rainforest: The Amazon as a topic of international environmental organizations from 1970 to 1992"

Boltzmannstr. 4
14195 Berlin

Since 10/2012

Doctoral student of the International Research Training Group “Between Spaces"

08/2011 - 08/2012

Qualification Scholarship holder of the International Research Training Group “Between Spaces”

04/2009 - 04/2011

Student research assistant at the Department of History, Institute for Latin American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin

10/2008 - 10/2012

Master in Interdisciplinary Latin American Studies, Institute for Latin American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin; Thesis: “Ecological crisis and environmental movement at the actor level: ideas, strategies and self-conception of José A. Lutzenberger between 1968 and 1992", research abroad in Rio de Janeiro & Porto Alegre

10/2004 - 10/2007

Bachelor in History, Spanish Philology and Education at the Freie Universität Berlin; Thesis: “In order to understand better what kind of history we are writing with God's help...: Hispano-American identities and the problem of history using the example of the Comentarios reales written by El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega”

"How the Green Hell became a Rainforest: The Amazon as a topic of international environmental organizations from 1970-1992"


Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Stefan Rinke (FU Berlin), Prof. Dr. Ricardo Pérez Montfort (CIESAS)


Forests have always served as a projection screen for a variety of ideas about ‘nature’ and humankind, thus shaping political, cultural and social practices and their relation to ‘nature’ or the ‘environment’ as well. From a historical perspective, those ideas can exhibit some similarities and continuities or stand in competition to each other. The debates on global environment and climate change of the last decades have shown that the region is understood by many actors of the environmental movement as the antithesis of modernity, on the one hand, and as its testing ground because of its ecological, hydrological and cultural characteristics, on the other. Closely linked to this view is the requirement to protect or save the rain forest. This goes hand in hand with the idea of a lost harmonious relationship between humans and ‘nature’. Often, the ‘intact rain forest’ and the ‘traditional way of life’ of its indigenous population are considered contemporary witnesses of a past that has been lost. The aim of this project is to analyze how the region changed from a predominantly scientific issue to become a broader concern in the context of the debates about environment and climate change. The question here arises of how some organizations and networks promoted this transition and of related knowledge and strategies. As a follow up, the cognitive and symbolic representations of this diverse region will be studied, trying to draw conclusions on the scientific and civil society’s responses in the era of accelerating globalization. The related ideas about nature and environment will be investigated by combining approaches of environmental history, cultural studies and spatial theories. This raises the question of what types of knowledge and spatial representations have been constitutive for the activism, thinking and strategies of those organizations and scientific networks.


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