Society and Environment in the East Mediterranean ca 300–1800 CE. Problems of Resilience, Adaptation and Transformation. Introductory Essay



This introductory article sets out some issues associated with the concept and theorization of ‘resilience’. We describe some historical contexts in which theories of societal resilience can be usefully deployed; we offer some challenges to critiques of the validity and usefulness of Formal Resilience Theory (Theory of Adaptive Change). Resilience, adaptation, and transformation are complex issues, and while we cannot tell the whole story through the lens of environmental change, we can integrate the various categories of evidence to attempt to focus in on where and how climate change might impact an imperial system. Using an example from Byzantine Anatolia we examine the most vulnerable segments, such as subsistence systems, with respect to the agency of elite managers and the role of religious identity. Thus we can throw light on how interconnected environmental and social factors might exert pressure on other sub-systems and thus the system as a whole.


Resilience Causality Adaptation Sustainability Society Transformation Anatolia, East Mediterranean  


Compliance with Ethical Standards

All papers in this Special Issue reflect work carried out within the framework of the Princeton University Climate Change and History Research Initiative 2015–2018

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

The research for and preparation of this article involved no human subjects.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Princeton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  2. 2.University of TexasAustinUSA

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