Call for Papers: Royal Anthropological Institute conference 2016 – Anthropology, Weather and Climate Change (27 – 29 May 2016, British Museum)
Scientific Cultures, Public Identity, and Post-WWII Climate Research
Convener: Gabriel Henderson (Aarhus University)
This panel focuses on the maturation and transformation of climate research as a public and professional scientific effort after World War II.
By “scientific cultures,” this panel explores — historically and sociologically – the implications of researchers from different scientific fields converging on the study the climate after World War II. Expanding on the claims of Spencer Weart, understanding how this convergence altered the landscape of climate research may help understand how scientists from different scientific backgrounds negotiated methodological disputes, disciplinary boundaries, and their own identities as professional scientists.
By “public identity,” this panel examines the manner in which climate researchers both imagined and engaged the general public about the future risks of climate change. The underlying assumption – an assumption that requires further social and historical scrutiny – is that one’s identity as a climate researcher is shaped by their perceived role in society. As scholars have recently suggested, for instance, different views on public reticence in light of the future risks of climate change led to questions over whether the field of “climatology” itself was an enterprise amenable for public discussion – especially given serious scientific and political uncertainties about the nature and extent of climate-related risks to society.