CfP: Exploring the Connected Histories of Meteorology, Agriculture and the Environment (Berlin, 9 October 2019)

Exploring the Connected Histories of Meteorology, Agriculture and the Environment

Workshop, TU Berlin, Germany, 9 October 2019

Organised by the DFG-Project “Environmental Factors in Agriculture: Observation and Experiment in Agricultural Meteorology (ca 1900-1950)”

Submission deadline for proposals: 30 December 2018

As the nineteenth-century saying goes, it is not the farmer, but the good weather that makes the corn grow (Fuller 1817). Two hundred years later, weather conditions are still crucial in farming and continue to affect both crop yields and livestock performance. Unsurprisingly, agriculture is one of the human activities that more has been interested in meteorological knowledge and more has benefited from improvements in weather forecasting.

In the early twentieth century the collaboration of meteorologists and agronomists brought about the new disciplines of agricultural meteorology and agricultural ecology. Taking a complementary approach, agricultural meteorology and agricultural ecology shifted the perspective from agriculture alone to the environmental conditions that determine success and failure in farming and paved the way for an understanding of the science and practice of agriculture that fully takes into account the influence of environmental factors. National and international institutions and extension services capitalised on the findings of these new disciplines to increase productivity and protect environmental resources.

Yet, despite the relevance that agricultural meteorology and agricultural ecology have had for the past century and the increasing concerns for the sustainability of agriculture, there is little historical scholarship available on the topic. The role of agricultural meteorologists and agricultural ecologists, their institutions and agendas, their tools and practices, and their interaction with farming communities and policy makers have been largely neglected.

The workshop will address these issues by collecting case studies on the science and practice of agricultural meteorology and agricultural ecology during the twentieth century, with a preference for the first half of the century. These case studies will offer the opportunity to explore the interconnections between the histories of meteorology, agriculture and the environment, and to discuss how historiography can develop to better examine these interconnections.

Possible topics for proposals include, but are not limited to:

  • case studies of scientific experts engaged in agricultural meteorology and agricultural ecology;
  • institutions involved in agricultural meteorology and agricultural ecology;
  • national and international collaborations between agronomists and meteorologists;
  • scientific and lay contributions to phenology;
  • technologies deployed for measuring meteorological variables in the field and for collecting farm data;
  • management and analysis of weather and farm data;
  • statistical approaches developed to uncover correlations between weather conditions and agricultural output;
  • economic evaluations of the weather impact on agricultural output;
  • strategies for communicating weather information to farmers;
  • weather impact on rural communities;
  • weather modification schemes related to agriculture;
  • visions of the environment promoted by agricultural meteorology and agricultural ecology;
  • policy actions developed on the basis of observational and experimental schemes in agricultural meteorology and agricultural ecology.

Practical details

For further information on the workshop, please contact the organiser at giuditta.parolini@tu-berlin.de. Contributions are welcome from the range of humanities. Proposals from historians of science and technology, geographers and STS scholars are especially encouraged. Special consideration will be given to proposals from scholars who wish to discuss case studies on Eastern Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. The language of the workshop is English. The workshop will be based on pre-circulated papers, approx. 3,000 words.

Submissions must include a title, an abstract (max 500 words), and a CV (single page). Submissions should be sent to giuditta.parolini@tu-berlin.de no later than December 30, 2018. Speakers’ accommodation costs will be covered, but only a contribution towards speakers’ travel expenses will be possible due to limited funding. A notification of acceptance will be given in early February 2019.

Contact Info:

Dr Giuditta Parolini, TU Berlin, Institut für Philosophie, Literatur-, Wissenschafts- und Technikgeschichte, Sekretariat H23, Straße des 17. Juni, 135; 10623 Berlin; Germany

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