Sebastian Felten

Portrait Sebastian Felten

Copyright: Fotostudio Schreiner

The extraction of mineral resources has sharply increased over the past hundred years, and the ongoing transition to “green energy” means increased future demand for minerals such as lithium, nickel, and cobalt. ERC project SCARCE (Administration of Mineral Resource Extraction in Central Europe, 1550-1850) examines the history of resource management to better understand long-term consequences of policy decisions by companies and states. Sebastian Felten and his team will analyse thousands of archival documents about mining in pre-industrial Central Europe, using automated text recognition and a new method based on historical epistemology. The aim of SCARCE is to gain a new understanding of capitalist development models, technoscientific innovation and the emergence of modern sustainability thinking. SCARCE will establish how Central Europe compared with mining regions in Iberian America, West Africa, and East Asia.

Sebastian Felten is a historian of finance, science, and bureaucracy at the University of Vienna and was a fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin from 2015 to 2019. His monograph Money in the Dutch Republic: Everyday Practice and Circuits of Exchange was published with Cambridge University Press in 2022.