ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE AND THE DEPARTMENT OF AFRICA, OCEANIA AND THE AMERICAS OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM

Anthropology, Weather & Climate Change

(P52)
Climate Change, History and the Urban Environment
Location Senate House - Montague Room
Date and Start Time 27 May, 2016 at 16:00
Sessions 1

Convenor

  • Nicolas Maughan (Aix-Marseille University) email

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Short Abstract

None provided.

Long Abstract

None provided.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Myth, Map, and Mackintosh: A Taxonomy of Weather Devices

Author: Samuel Ganton (University of Waterloo)  email

Short Abstract

The artifacts we make concretize our attitudes toward weather. This paper defines as a 'weather device' any artifact or process which reacts to weather, providing data, representation, energy, or shelter. Through this classification, an entire cultural apparatus of weather mediation emerges.

Long Abstract

The impact of weather on everyday life can be difficult to define. However, we can observe the results of our attitudes toward weather through the things we make in response to it. People make many things in response to weather: the most obvious are objects like umbrellas or raincoats. However, artifacts or constructs as diverse as mythological narratives, climate models, and satellites can also act to mediate our relationship with the atmosphere.

This paper proposes to define as a 'weather device' any cultural artifact or process which reacts in some way to weather, providing data, representation, energy, or shelter to humans. Weather devices exist at a range of scales: a city is a weather device, and so is a hat. Weather proverbs and scientific research stations exist on the same spectrum: they are both ways of collecting and disseminating information about atmospheric conditions. An agricultural field and a sailing ship both harvest energy from the sky. Each of these artifacts concretizes a particular attitude toward weather: some devices resist natural forces, some harness them, some interpret and explain them.

This paper is an exercise in reframing: it views shelter as clothing, stormwater management as weather control, and observes in human civilization a concerted array of responses, an entire cultural apparatus of weather mediation. It will draw on the author's research into the Maracaibo valley in Venezuela, a region affected by a permanent nocturnal thunderstorm, to provide specific examples, and will also draw on the history of architecture and everyday objects.

The relation between early human society and environment

Author: Yuming Liu (University of Oxford)  email

Short Abstract

What's the relationship between early human society and environment? To what extent, the transition from the Shang dynasty to the Zhou dynasty may have been a product of environment change?

Long Abstract

Does environment affect politics or do politics affect environment? Mark Elvin's book, Retreat of the Elephants, has traced an environmental history in ancient China. In turn, may human beings' political changes be an outcome of environment? The transition from the Shang dynasty to the Zhou dynasty may have been a product of environment change. Particularly, environmental pressures may have driven the Zhou to conquer the Shang. The paper is divided in three parts, first part discusses about the change from the Shang dynasty to the Zhou dynasty. The second part is discussion of human's influence on environment.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.