Call for papers: Asian Extremes: Climate, Meteorology and Disaster in History

Asia Research Institute, Seminar Room AS8, Level 4
10 Kent Ridge Crescent - Singapore

Date(s) - 17/05/2018 - 18/05/2018
All Day

Asia Research Institute, Seminar Room AS8, Level 4


The weather plays an often underestimated, yet vitally important role in human history. Climate has been considered an explanation for almost every aspect of society and culture, from causing disease to determining racial characteristics historically. Extremes of weather, especially those experienced in Asia including typhoons and monsoon rains, have also had a major impact on society. In urban areas, the weather has contributed to urban destruction and shaped resultant urban rebuilding and planning. In the port and coastal cities of Asia, the need to understand those extremes also led to pioneering scientific developments in the fields of meteorology and maritime science. In the modern Anthropocene, the need to understand the history of the climate and all its associated impacts is ever more critical.

Climate and weather history are still considered emerging fields despite some precedent from the sciences and arguably, studies in this field have disproportionately favoured Northern Europe, in large part because of the greater availability and accessibility of records for this region. There are still many knowledge gaps for Asia however, partly because of the paucity of records in comparison to Europe, because many archives have either been restricted or have only relatively recently been opened, but also because regional scholars have overly focused on teleological nationalistic explorations of the past.

The aim of this conference therefore is to explore the role of the weather in the history of anthropogenic Asia. It ties in with current historiographical trends that explore scientific history as a globally linked enterprise, one that crossed different national and imperial borders. It also sees Asia as 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 field remains relatively under researched. The panels adopt an interdisciplinary approach, appealing to historians, social scientists and natural scientists with an interest in events and trends in the history of climate changes and extremes of weather, to suggest what an enhanced understanding of the past might teach us about managing and adapting to current climatic challenges. This helps us to fill a gap between different disciplines, especially meteorologists and scientist who are more concerned with quantified data and historian and/or social scientists who put more emphasis on socio-political aspects of climate and climate change.

In this conference, we seek to gain a better understanding of the following themes:

  • Asian Extremes: Weather as a Driver of Change
  • Imperial Meteorology: A Global Science
  • Culture, Climate and Weather
  • Weather History and the Modern-Day: Integrating History and Science in the Anthropocene

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