Report written by Zhenghong Chen, China Representative for ICHM
The Fourth National Conference on the History of Meteorological Science and Technology was held in Beijing on 8-9 November 2019. The event was hosted by the Committee on the History of Meteorological Science and Technology of the Chinese Society for the History of Science and Technology and Department of Science and Technology, and by the Climate Change Section of China Meteorological Administration. The conference was organized by the China Meteorological Administration Training Center (CMATC), and co-hosted by the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences at Nanjing University, by the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences of Peking University, and by the Institute of Science and Technology History of Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology. The main theme of the conference was “the enlightenment and history of meteorological developments for the 70th anniversary of the people’s Republic of China”.
The Fifth International Workshop on Science, Philosophy and Literature
Hermoupolis, Syros Island, Greece 14-16 July 2020
THIS WORKSHOP HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
The Atmospheric Humanities is a fast-emerging field of scholarship seeking to understand socio-cultural dimensions of atmospheric experience, knowledge and practice. Examining atmospheric agency in its historical and contemporary manifestations, atmospheric humanities explore the atmosphere as a site of diverse cultural appropriations of air’s modalities and their reproduction in practices of aerial and climatological citizenship. This foundational workshop aims to initiate and foster discussions on how atmospheric themes, memes, and objects emerge, spread and travel across artistic and academic communities. We especially welcome contributions from scholars whose work spans disciplines, including, but not limited to, literary and media studies, history of science, environmental history, aesthetics, visual arts, architecture, phenomenology, and social sciences.
The changing representation(s) of the atmosphere in art and popular media, both contemporary and historical.
Interfaces and interactions between scientific understanding(s) of the atmosphere and other ways of knowing or experiencing the atmosphere (e.g. political, indigenous, religious, philosophical, aesthetic).
Explorations of space and scale in relation to human understanding of the atmosphere and related concepts such as weather and climate.
The material culture of the atmosphere, including technologies used to measure, assess, represent and manipulate the atmosphere.
The workshop is organized by the International Commission of Science and Literature and the International Commission on History of Meteorology. The Commissions will provide a limited travel support to early career scholars, who should send their application letter, presentation abstract and CV to Dr Alexander Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org and George N. Vlahakis at email@example.com
Organizing committee: Vladimir Jankovic (University of Manchester), George N. Vlahakis (Hellenic Open University), Madalina Diaconu (University of Vienna), Alexander Hall (University of Birmingham), James R. Fleming (Colby College), John Holmes (University of Birmingham), and Kostas Tampakis (National Hellenic Research Foundation).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Please submit a maximum 300-word abstract (plus listing up to five citations) for either workshop (or both) by 1 July to Ilan Kelman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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