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Transformative Histories: Connecting Science, Weather and Environmental Change

  • April 19, 2021
  • 7:00 PM (EDT)
  • Online

Roundtable convened by CHSTM working group ‘Under Stormy Skies: Atmospheric Science, Technology, and Society’

Hosted by CHSTM on Zoom on 19th April 2021, 19.00 EST.

This roundtable proposes to interrogate two concepts within the interconnected histories of science, climate and environment. First, it considers how climate and environmental historians and scholars engaged in the history of science are bridging existing gaps between the three fields. Disaster history has traditionally been placed at this nexus examining, for instance, multi-field responses to extreme weather including transformations of urban, coastal and riverine landscapes through nature-induced damage but also through rebuilding and risk management efforts. This roundtable seeks to build on such work through our second concept: exploring alternative or new ways of reading and connecting climate and environment. It does so by engaging scholars working at the nexus of science, climatic and environmental histories - across themes that are connected to social, environmental and scientific transformations. These include colonialism and its relationship with changes to indigenous communities and landscapes; disaster, extreme weather and climate; land reclamation and surveying and meteorology, weather science and knowledge making. In doing so, the roundtable also proposes to address the methodological challenges and rewards of working across these related areas and suggest pathways toward future methodological apparatus.

Panellists and themes:

Chair: Dr Ruth Morgan (ANU)
Ruth Morgan is Director of the Centre for Environmental History at the Australian National University in Canberra, where she is researching the environmental exchanges between British India and the Australian colonies during the long nineteenth century.

Cyclone Carol and the Remaking of Urban Space in Mauritius, 1950s-1970s
Robert Rouphail (Susquehanna University): 
Rouphail is Assistant Professor of African history whose research investigates the social, political, and environmental histories of empire and decolonization in East Africa and the western Indian Ocean World.

Humans versus wetlands: connecting intertidal livelihoods across the modern Malay world
Geoffrey K. Pakiam (ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore): Pakiam works on societies and commodity frontiers in Southeast Asia, particularly the environmental history of Malay world coastal communities.

El Niño and the human-environment nexus: drought and vulnerability in Singapore 1877-1911
Fiona Williamson (Singapore Management University): Williamson is an environmental historian, with a particular interest in climate, extreme weather and in weather science in colonial Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Human Sensors and Climate Machines: Collecting Environmental Data in Colonial Africa
Philipp Lehmann (UCR): Lehmann is Assistant Professor at UC Riverside, who works on the history of colonial climate science in Africa and Europe from the late nineteenth to the middle of the twentieth centuries.

The Future of Climate History in South Asia
Sarah Carson (Northwestern): Carson is an historian of modern South Asia studying the intersections between weather reasonings, prediction technologies, and state-society relations.

Panelists will speak for 10 minutes each, followed by a discussion chaired by Ruth Morgan.

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