Weather, Local Knowledge and Everyday Life
Rio de Janeiro 12-16 May 2008, Museu de Astronomia e Ciencias Afins
International Commission for the History of Meteorology invites scholars across the social sciences to a meeting devoted to understanding the place of weather and climate in everyday life. We want to use this gathering to explore the ways in which various disciplines– from history to historical geography, anthropology to sociology – conceptualize the evolution of ‘climatological citizenship’ as it manifests itself in daily routines, rituals, perceptions, reactions to and uses of the weather. We would like to discuss the extent to which the weather really matters in what the individual or a society do on a routine basis but also gauge the depth of public assimilation of expert weather knowledge, media coverage and decision making as they relate to atmospheric events, climate trends, and other forms of past and present ‘airmindedness.’ We would be particularly interested to unpack the ways in which the historical and contemporary actors and ‘non-experts’ experienced, remembered, predicted, ridiculed, feared and loved the weather.
One way of pulling these issues together would be to say that we need a fuller understanding of the means by which people ‘take weather in their hands.’ We believe that people across the globe engage with (and define) the weather on a daily basis not as individuals only, but also as members of a family, extended community, city, region, or nation and as bearers of religious, ethnic, professional and otherwise ‘tribal’ identities. If we were able to thrash out the weather-attitudes which these entities constitute in their daily experiences and local practices, we would be informed, more generally, about the forces that keep the ‘natural environment’ within the orbit of human interest, societal relevance and wide participation in decision making processes. This would have implication on understanding how such attitudes determine civic subjects’ meteorological lives and the discourses of weather mutate into social and political issues. For example, how meaningful is it for a society to ‘blame’ the weather (versus ‘human factor’) for any atmospherically inflicted losses? Is weather external to societies? Is it a trigger or a cause?
In exploring the means used the ordinary citizens and non-professional communities to ‘take the weather in their hands,’ we would like to ask: How much have the past and present publics valued the meteorological knowledge and how much have they believed it benefited their and others’ lifeworlds? To what extent do the citizens across the world know about the magnitude of research, spending and institutional infrastructure of the weather research communities? how much do they believe that science and technology can mitigate extreme environmental conditions, from flash floods to typhoons? What were (and what are) the local forms of environmental knowledge (and indigenous practices) that may be said to provide alternatives to scientific understanding? Have the atmospheric sciences ever paid attention to such meta-meteorological approaches to the weather? How do media and vernacular representations of weather (newspapers, hearsay, radio, local traditions, TV, internet) either enhance or obfuscate how the weather is experienced by individuals?
Organized by Vladimir Jankovic (University of Manchester), Cornelia Ludecke (University of Hamburg) and James R. Fleming (Colby College).
Please submit 300 words proposal for papers and sessions by December 1, 2007 to firstname.lastname@example.org
Some general themes for papers and sessions may include :
Non-meteorological approaches to weather and climate
Non-institutional coping with extremes and disasters
Science and local knowledge – methodological and theoretical agendas
Everyday notions and practices about weather and health; meteoropathology
The cultures of blame, excuse, complaint and risk
Weather rites, festivities, taboos, fetishism
Public understanding of climate change and weather risk
Weather and sports, outdoors, tourism, and travel
Apparel, active wear and extreme weather
Weather buffs and storm chasers
Weather and disability
Indoor weather; indoor health
Weather in daily speech and the media
Visual, literary, olfactory dimension of atmospheric phenomena
Aesthetics of atmospheric events
Dietetics and weather
Weather and religion
Urban and rural climates
Weather and travel
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