Category Archives: Conference

Conference

Symposia on the history of meteorological knowledge transfer in colonial contexts

European Society for the History of Science Conference, London September 2018

Conference report by Giuditta Parolini

 

Two linked symposia on “(Dis)Continuity Between the East and the West: The History of Meteorological Knowledge Transfer in Colonial Contexts”, sponsored by the International Commission for the History of Meteorology, took place in London this month during the conference of the European Society for the History of Science (14-17 September 2018).

Zhenghong Chen talking about meteorology in China

The symposia, convened by Fiona Williamson, Vladimir Jankovic and Alexander Hall, featured six talks on meteorological history across time and space. The talks investigated colonial contexts in a time frame that ranged from the early modern age to the twentieth century. The symposia engaged with the overarching theme of the conference – unity and disunity – by addressing continuities and discontinuities in Western and Eastern approaches to meteorology. ‘How did Western meteorological knowledge travel to the East?’, ‘What were the people and institutions that promoted its dissemination?’, ‘How was it received?’, ‘What kind of transformations and adaptations took place in the East?’ were questions common to all the talks presented at the conference.

 

The first symposium featured contributions from Zhenghong Chen (China Meteorological Administration Training Centre) on Chinese meteorology in the colonial era, Huib Zuidervaart (Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands) and Stefan Grab (University of Witswatersrand) on meteorological observations in the Dutch colonies during the early modern period, and Martin Mahony (University of East Anglia) on meteorological knowledge production in colonial Mauritius. During the second symposium George Adamson (King’s College London) discussed Gilbert Walker’s work on Indian climate and the Southern Oscillation, Joan Kenworthy (Independent scholar) considered how local meteorological knowledge influenced the understanding of climate in the Kenyan highlands, and Giuditta Parolini (TU Berlin) addressed the case of agricultural meteorology in French Indochina during the early twentieth century.

Martin Mahony on meteorology in Mauritius

The symposia were conceived as an opportunity to investigate the networks of meteorological knowledge exchange between East and West, so far understudied, and to examine how this knowledge exchange affected the material culture and intellectual terrain of the atmospheric sciences both in the colonies and in the West. As argued by Zuidervaart and Grab, the creation of meteorological knowledge in colonial contexts has a long history indeed. Meteorological observations were already common in Dutch colonial settlements in the early modern age and the records of these meteorological observations found their way back to the homeland, where they were discussed within scientific societies.

 

During the colonial age, Western meteorological science often contributed to the growth of local knowledge in the atmospheric sciences. As discussed by Chen, China offers a clear example of this, because the work done by missionaries and the observatories built by Western nations promoted the development of a local tradition in meteorology. Yet, it would be mistaken to assume that local meteorological knowledge did not exist in the colonies. In the case of East Africa discussed by Kenworthy, colonial and local meteorological knowledge both existed, but issues arose in the attempt to merge the two discourses.

Starting from the nineteenth century, meteorological knowledge became a key asset in the colonies due to the value of meteorological data in many human enterprises, ranging from agriculture to navigation. The meteorological observatory in Port Louis, Mauritius, discussed by Mahoney, and the agrometeorological service in French Indochina, discussed by Parolini, are just two examples of the economic value that meteorological knowledge increasingly acquired, and how colonial authorities sought to generate and exploit such knowledge. Adamson’s talk on the Southern Oscillation added an additional perspective. If Gilbert’s research was prompted by the economic issues posed by the variability of the monsoon in India, understanding his theory of the Southern Oscillation requires shifting the vision from a place-specific case study to the spatially connected world of climate oscillations.

Joan Kenworthy on meteorology in East Africa

The stimulating questions and engaging discussions that took place during the Q&A contributed further to enlarge the panorama of meteorological knowledge in the colonies by establishing comparisons with case studies of colonial meteorology not discussed during the panel, and by drawing connections between historical, geographical and cultural studies of weather and climate.

 

Conference

Asian Extremes: Climate, Meteorology and Disaster in History

Conference report by Fiona Williamson

 

This conference (17 -18 May 2018) was organised by the Asia Research Institute (ARI), National University of Singapore (NUS); with support from International Commission on the History of Meteorology (ICHM), and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).

The overarching aim of this conference was to explore the weather in the history of anthropogenic Asia. Asia was critical to the development of global meteorological science: understanding extremes such as typhoons were essential to trade, economy and society. Despite the centrality of extreme weather to urban Asia historically (and in the present day) however, this subject has remained relatively under researched. Climate and weather history are established, yet developing fields, although arguably, studies in this field have disproportionately favoured Northern Europe and the US, in large part because of the greater availability and accessibility of records. There are still many knowledge gaps for Asia, partly because of the paucity of records in comparison to Europe or because many archives have either been restricted or have only relatively recently been opened. This conference therefore aimed to fill a knowledge gap; connect with historiographical trends that view scientific history as a globally linked enterprise and, bring scholars working in the field together in discussion. It also explored interdisciplinary work on the subject, with papers from historians, anthropologists and scientists.

 

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Conference

Painting the clouds, from the dawn of the Enlightenment to the twilight of romanticism

On January 16, 2018, a diverse group of scholars including art historians, literature experts and historians of science met at the Musée Delacroix in Paris for a workshop entitled: “Peindre les nuages, de l’aube des Lumières au crépuscule du romantisme” (or Painting the clouds, from the dawn of the Enlightenment to the twilight of romanticism).

Sponsored by ICHM, below the workshop organiser Anouchka Vasak summarises and reflects on the meeting. For a full schedule of the event, please scroll down. read more »

Conference

Call for Papers: Royal Anthropological Institute conference 2016

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)

Short Abstract

This panel focuses on the maturation and transformation of climate research as a public and professional scientific effort after World War II.

Long Abstract

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.

Propose a paper

Conference

25th International Congress of History of Science, and Technology (ICHST)

The Website of the 25th ICHST, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro, 23-29
July 2017 is now online at: http://www.ichst2017.sbhc.org.br/

The Congress organisers have also issued the first Circular of the Congress. It
can be downloaded from the DHST Website:
https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGhzdHdlYi5vcmd8d3d3fGd4OjE0NWU4ODJhZDZlZDc0ZGU

As for each Congress in the ICHST series, commissions are expected to submit at
least one symposium to the Congress.

Please note that the deadline for proposing symposia for the Congress is 30
April 2016 (http://www.ichst2017.sbhc.org.br/conteudo/view?ID_CONTEUDO=249)

Conference

Call for Submissions: “Winter Ecology,” Special Issue of Northeastern Naturalist

The mission of the special issue is three-fold: to highlight the region’s winter ecology in general, to provide a venue for studies stemming from the historically severe winter of 2014-15, and to understand winter ecology through the lens of history. Historical articles may include, but are not limited to, case studies of severe winters, analyses of changing winter landscapes and waterways over longer periods of time, and critical interpretations of the evolution of the field of winter ecology in the American Northeast.

The call for abstracts, description of the special issue, and online submission form can be found here: http://commons.trincoll.edu/winterecology/.

*   Abstract deadline: 1 October 2015 (invitations to submit manuscript made by 15 October 2015)
*   Manuscript deadline: 15 February 2016
*   Targeted publication date: January 2017

Please contact thomas.wickman@trincoll.edu <mailto:thomas.wickman@trincoll.edu> with questions.

Conference

Climate Change and Health: Call for Papers

Two workshops are being held at University College London, U.K. on climate change and health:
1. Arctic, 20-21 October 2015, leading to a book.
2. Small Island Developing States, 24-25 May 2016, leading to 1-2 journal issues and together with a panel proposal for “Anthropology, Weather and Climate Change” 27-29 May 2016
Please submit a maximum 300-word abstract (plus listing up to five citations) for either workshop (or both) by 1 July to Ilan Kelman (ilan_kelman@hotmail.com)
For each workshop:
(a) Up to 20 proposals will be selected. The workshop format will be that draft papers are briefly presented and then critiqued through detailed discussion in order to give feedback for the book and journal issues.
(b) Food will be provided for each workshop, but apologies that neither travel nor accommodation could be covered.
(c) Up to 3 attendees will be asked to present on a panel for a public event one evening.
(d) A limited number of others may attend the workshop and participate in questions/discussion.
The workshops are run by the UCL Global Governance Institute, the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, the UCL Institute for Global Health, and Many Strong Voices
Conference

Climate Change conference

June 25-26, 2015 at Museum Luneburg

Dealing with Climate Change: Calculus & Catastrophe in the Age of Simulation

 

Computer simulations have risen to prominence as primary tools of producing and negotiating knowledge about global climate change and its future trajectories. Scientists investigate climate change as an actual possibility since they have studied the Earth system behaviour with the by now predominant research technologies of simulation; policy experts explore the scope of action and project the latent catastrophic fortunes of humankind and how they might be prevented or postponed; intellectuals struggle with the autonomous nature of models in light of the categorical limits to knowledge about uncertainties. Simulations provide the virtual topographies to deal with climate change.

The conference aims to investigate the multiple meanings and practices of computer simulation both in the field of climate research itself as well as in the broader socio-cultural dynamics. By bringing together scholars from different backgrounds in simulation thought, study and practice the conference will explore how computer simulations mediate between the data, models, visualisations, algorithms and calculations rendering climate change knowable and the cultural, social and political imaginaries of climate change.

Concept & organisation: Isabell Schrickel and Christoph Engemann

The event is free and open to the public but registration is required.

To register, please send an email to mecs@leuphana.de.

 

 

Conference

Call for Papers: American Meteorological Society

The American Meteorological Society has issued a call for papers for its 96th annual meeting, January 10-14, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Abstracts for the 14th annual history symposium are due August 3.

Conference

Climate in meteorology, meteorology in climate studies

From 20-21 November 2014, a group of historians, science studies scholars, and representatives from the Norwegian weather service met for a workshop titled, “Climate in meteorology, meteorology in climate studies.”  Organised by the History of Meteorology Group at the University of Bergen, the workshop was hosted in the university’s Geophysical Institute, the home of the Bergen School of Meteorology that was responsible for the development of so many foundational concepts of modern meteorology and climatology. Aided by travel grants from the International Commission for the History of Meteorology, the workshop was an opportunity for early career researchers to present papers alongside senior researchers from the field and discuss at length aspects of climate studies’ history, development, and relationship with meteorology.

 

Bergen Group Photo - edited

Attendees at the ‘Climate in meteorology, meteorology in climate studies’ workshop stood on the stairs in the University of Bergen’s Geophysical Institute, where many illustrious figures from the history of meteorology have previously stood (Photograph courtesy of Dania Achermann).