Online Seminar

Meteorology and Cultural Change in Vietnam, 1000-1850

By Dr Hieu Phung, online, 6 October 2022, 20:00 SGT (UTC+8)

ICHM Annual Seminar Series

Join us for the first of our new online seminar series on 6th October when the environmental historian Dr Hieu Phung (Rutgers University) will be speaking about her research on the history of meteorology in Vietnam.

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Between 1000 and the 1850s, meteorological knowledge and practices of the Vietnamese were strongly associated with wet rice cultivation. The authorities maintained official agencies to produce yearly calendars that traced proper timing for rice crops, while the populace accumulated experience-based knowledge about seasonal rainfall. But weather extremes and other natural anomalies were not merely natural processes. They were also “Heaven-sent” warnings of cosmological disasters that demanded for moral and political change. While crossing dendrochronological reconstruction with historical records have recently generated new understandings of the past climate patterns, a deeper level of contextualization is a must to unfold the cultural script embedded in the climate-related information from historical sources.


A photograph of the seminar speaker Dr Hieu Phung.

Dr Hieu Phung is an environmental historian who investigates the impacts of local culture and statecraft on the preindustrial environment, especially on water and climate. She has recently joined Rutgers University Department of Asian Languages and Cultures as an Assistant Professor of Global Studies-Asia. Her research focuses on the history of Vietnam and Southeast Asia during the transition from the Medieval Climate Anomaly (c. 800/950–1250/1300) to the Little Ice Age (c. 1300–1850). In pursuing environmental history, she engages with the study of space, maps, and texts that reveal the construction of premodern geographic knowledge. She is working on a book project entitled “Heavenly Drought: Natural Anomalies and State-Building in Fifteenth-Century Vietnam.” Her recent publications include “Naming the Red River – Becoming a Vietnamese River” and “Meteorology in Vietnam, Pre-1850.”