Dr Frank Uekotter

Dr Frank Uekotter

Department of History
Reader in Environmental Humanities

Contact details

Arts Building, Room 442

I am a Birmingham Fellow working on environmental issues, both past and present, in a global context.


  • PhD Bielefeld University, 2001
  • Habilitation, Bielefeld University, 2009


I studied history, political science and the social sciences at the universities of Freiburg and Bielefeld in Germany, the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA. I earned, or at any rate was awarded, a PhD from Bielefeld University in 2001, where I continued to work for several years. Among other things, I organized a conference on the environmental history of Nazi Germany for the German ministry for the environment and spent some time at the German Historical Institute in Washington DC in 2005.

I moved to Munich in 2006, helped by a generous Dilthey grant from the VolkswagenFoundation. I taught at Munich’s Ludwig Maximilian University and helped to build the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, an institute for advanced studies in the environmental humanities run in collaboration by Munich University and the Deutsches Museum. It is during these years that I realized that environmental history, in addition to being an exciting field of historical scholarship, holds a huge potential for ongoing environmental debates. I also moved beyond my primary focus on German and U.S. history towards a more global perspective on the past. I joined Birmingham University in September 2013.


  • Towards a Dead Planet? A History of Humans, Natural Resources, and the Environment (Spring term)
  • The Age of Energy: Global Histories of Hope, Needs, and Carbon

  • Before Brexit: Histores of European Integration, 1945-2016

Postgraduate supervision

I would be interested in supervising research in environmental history, broadly conceived.

Find out more - our PhD History  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My research interests go into different directions. One is the past and present of environmentalism. I have published a book about the Green Germany, which is a synthesis on German environmental history as well as a reflection on where environmentalism is standing in the twenty-first century. I continue to write and speak about environmental issues in Germany and beyond.

I am currently writing an environmental history of global modernity. How do we write a world history of human interaction with the natural world when all parameters come into flux: definitions of problems, priorities, allegiances, actors? And how do we write an environmental history of the world that speaks to the wider community of global historians? Environmental history should not just speak to itself, and this book seeks to demonstrate how environmental issues can help us writing global history.

Looking towards the future, I am building a research group on the global world of monoculture that seeks to understand why production systems all over the world, from coniferous forests in central Europe to soybeans in Brazil are tilting towards a reliance on a single crop during the modern era. The working argument is that there may be something akin to a “mind of monoculture,” which we can observe in very different societies all over the world.



  • Exploring Apocalyptica: Coming to Terms with Environmental Alarmism (editor) (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018).

  • Deutschland in Grün. Eine zwiespältige Erfolgsgeschichte (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015).

  • The Greenest Nation? A New History of German Environmentalism (Boston: MIT Press, 2014).

  • Comparing Apples, Oranges, and Cotton. Environmental Perspectives on the Global Plantation (editor) (Frankfurt: Campus, 2014).
  • Am Ende der Gewissheiten. Die ökologische Frage im 21. Jahrhundert (Campus: Frankfurt and New York 2011).
  • Die Wahrheit ist auf dem Feld. Eine Wissensgeschichte der deutschen Landwirtschaft (Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht: Göttingen, 2010. 2nd edition 2011, 3rd edition 2012).
  • The Age of Smoke. Environmental Policy in Germany and the United States, 1880-1970 (Univer­sity of Pittsburgh Press: Pittsburgh, 2009).
  • Umweltgeschichte im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (R. Olden­bourg Verlag: Munich, 2007).
  • The Green and the Brown. A History of Conservation in Nazi Germany (Studies in Environment and History, Cambridge University Press: New York et al, 2006).
  • Naturschutz im Aufbruch. Eine Geschichte des Naturschutzes in Nordrhein-Westfalen 1945-1980 (Campus: Frankfurt and New York, 2004).
  • Von der Rauchplage zur ökologischen Revolution. Eine Geschichte der Luftverschmutzung in Deutschland und den USA 1880-1970 (Klartext: Essen, 2003).


  • "Myths, Big Myths and Global Environmentalism," Stefan Berger, Holger Nehring (eds.), The History of Social Movements in Global Perspective. A Survey (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 419-447.

  • "The Meaning of Moving Sand. Towards a Dust Bowl Mythology," Global Environment 8 (2015): 349-379.

  • "Recollections of Rubber," Dominik Geppert, Frank Lorenz Müller (eds.), Imperial Sites of Memory. Commemorating Colonial Rule in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015), 243-265.

  • "You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet. A Death-Defying Look at the Future of the Climate Debate," Heike Greschke, Julia Tischler (eds.), Grounding Global Climate Change. Contributions from the Social and Cultural Sciences (Dordrecht, 2015), 175-181.

  • "Why Panaceas Work. Recasting Science, Knowledge, and Fertilizer Interests in German Agriculture," Agricultural History 88 (2014): 68-86.

  • "Europe's Guinea Pigs. Globalizing the Agricultural History of Southeastern Europe," Martor. The Museum of the Romanian Peasant Anthropology Review 19 (2014): 175-179.
  • "Farming and Not Knowing. Agnotology Meets Environmental History," Dolly Jørgensen, Finn Arne Jørgensen, Sara B. Pritchard (eds.), New Natures: Joining Environmental History with Science and Technology Studies (Pittsburgh, 2013), 37-50.
  • "Fukushima, Europe, and the Authoritarian Nature of Nuclear Technology," Environmental His­tory 17:2 (April 2012): 277-284.
  • "Affluence and Sustainability. Environmental History and the History of Consumption," Hartmut Berghoff, Uwe Spiekermann (eds.), Decoding Modern Consumer Societies (Palgrave MacMillan: New York, 2012), 111-124.
  • "The Enigma of Mobility. Reflections on the Arab Revolutions," Transfers 1:2 (Summer 2011): 150-157.
  • "Consigning Environmentalism to History? Remarks on the Place of the Environmental Move­ment in Modern History," RCC Perspectives 7 (2011).
  • "The Magic of One. Reflections on the Pathologies of Monoculture," RCC Perspectives 2 (2011).
  • "Thinking Big. The Broad Outlines of a Burgeoning Field," Frank Uekoetter (ed.), The Turning Points of Environmental History (University of Pittsburgh Press: Pittsburgh, 2010), 1-12.

I have an op-ed column on environmental affairs on Focus Online, a German-language news site. (with link to www.focus.de)

View all publications in research portal