Monday, 7 December 2015

New website:

By Martin

I've created a new website - - dedicated to my fellowship project which I described in the previous post. I though it would be a good idea to gather together blog posts, publications and updates from this project all in one place. Enjoy!

Friday, 4 December 2015

New post at Nottingham and the 'Imperial Weather' project

By Martin 

It's been a long time coming but this week I finally took up my new fellowship position in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham. Officially, I'm a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow and Nottingham Research Fellow, which means three years of research funding to develop a project on climate, empire and the history of colonial meteorology called 'Imperial weather: meteorology and the making of 20th century colonialism' (check out my new project website at Essentially this project is building upon and deepening the work I did at King's College London with the help of some funding from the RGS-IBG (see here).

Friday, 11 September 2015

Commonwealth Climates - project report

I've recently been wrapping up some work on the history of meteorology and climatology in the British Empire, funded by the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers; RGS-IBG). The final project report which has been submitted to RGS-IBG can be downloaded here. A summary of the report is below:

What effects did the political structures of the British Empire and the Commonwealth have on the emergence and spread of meteorological science globally during the 20th century? How did the development of such global sciences function as legitimating tools in arguments for continued colonial rule? Such questions arise from a growing body of scholarship on the historical geographies of colonial science, and were addressed in this project through archival research on the Conference of Empire Meteorologists (CEM) and the later Conference of Commonwealth Meteorologists (CCM). From 1919 these networks provided a space for knowledge exchange and for scientific standardisation, and offered their imperial backers a science of the atmosphere which could contribute to the improvement of transport and commerce across the British Empire. By tracing the priorities and achievements of these networks from the age of imperial consolidation, through decolonisation and the emergence of the Commonwealth, it has been possible to explore how international meteorological and climatological practices have evolved alongside shifting forms of colonial and postcolonial power. By focusing attention on sites and time periods heretofore neglected in the history of meteorology, this project makes important contributions to debates about the historical geographies of science and empire.

It's been a very productive project, with a number of resulting conference papers and a piece which I'm currently revising for the Journal of Historical Geography. The project also gave me the space to develop much more ambitious plans, which have resulted in me being awarded a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship and a Nottingham Research Fellowship to pursue related topics in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham. I'll be heading up there in December.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Wrapping up the PhD

By Helen

This Thursday I will officially receive my doctorate at my PhD graduation ceremony. It is now almost seven months since I handed my thesis in and more than five months since I passed my viva. I've been employed as a full-time research associate since the start of 2015, but it seems to take a long time to truly wrap up the PhD. There's of course the small matter of the viva, and then professionally printing and resubmitting the final version of the thesis before you can really breathe a sigh of relief and entertain the thought that you are now moving into a new phase of your (academic) career. And even then there are many loose ends to tie up in terms of reporting important findings to research partners, sharing the finished thesis with them and others, working out when and in what contexts you can use the title 'Dr' before your name, and of course trying to write up high quality journal articles based on your PhD research. Someone told me that it took them until years after completing the PhD to really understand what it was about and see it in broader context, whilst others have said I'll be amazed at how quickly I'll be prepared to cast it aside and move onto other things. 

My public graduation ceremony, however, seems like a good time to draw some sort of line under the PhD experience by reporting on some of my main findings and reflecting on some of the things I've learnt. My PhD thesis entitled 'Organising science policy: participation, learning & experimentation in British democracy' is available open access here. Below I have tried to briefly summarise my approach and findings.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Klimahaus Bremerhaven: in the world interior of climate

By Martin

I recently visited the Klimahaus in Bremerhaven, northern Germany along with cultural anthropologist Werner Krauss. Klimahaus is a unique museum dedicated to humanity's relationship to climate. The main body of the museum leads visitors on a journey along the line of 8-degrees Longitude, following a modern-day explorer as he heads south from Bremerhaven to Switzerland, through Italy and the Sahara, into Cameroon, across the south Atlantic and over Antarctica. From there visitors head across the Pacific, calling in on Samoa and Alaska, before looping back to northern Germany at Hallig Langeness. At each stop, visitors enter an exhibition dedicated to the climate of the location, exploring its role in shaping human life and culture. In a rather old-fashioned anthropological tradition, we are introduced to the 'customs and traditions' of the locals, while immersed in the heat or cold, humidity or aridity of their climate.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Wer nicht will deichen, der muss weichen: a fieldtrip in Nordfriesland

By Martin

Last Thursday Helen and I travelled with Werner Krauss and Dorle Dracklé to Nordfriesland to explore some of the places and politics that make up emerging energy landscapes in the region. Werner and Dorle are both anthropologists who have conducted work on the emergence of renewable energy systems across Europe. Werner in particular has had a long ethnographic engagement with the area which stretches north of Hamburg towards the Danish border; a land of salt marshes, wide open skies, migratory birds, farming communities, coastal trippers and wind turbines. Hailing from Norfolk, we felt an uncanny sense of familiarity in this otherwise strange landscape.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Media Cultures of Computer Simulation - visiting fellowship

by Martin

(c) MECS 2015
I'll be spending the next couple of months as a Research Fellow at the MECS Institute in Lueneburg, Germany - the Institute for Advanced Study on Media Cultures of Computer Simulation. It's a really interesting, small interdisciplinary group of scholars united by an interest in the transformations wrought by computer simulation on knowledge-making and forms of life, thus connecting with my interests in the role of climate simulation in the science and politics of climate change.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Argument, Authority, Anxiety - special section of History of Meteorology

(c) Evgenia Arbugaeva
The latest volume of the journal History of Meteorology features a special section on 'Argument, Authority and Anxiety' in the atmospheric sciences edited by Ruth Morgan. It includes papers presented at a day-long symposium held as part of the International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine in Manchester in 2013.

Taken together, the papers present an interesting narrative of the ambiguous place the atmospheric sciences have occupied in wider scientific and cultural landscapes over time, and of the anxieties atmospheric scientists themselves have felt about their professional credibility and authority. Papers range from Australian colonial meteorology and the use of weather knowledge by 19th century British insurance companies to more contemporary concerns about the politics of climate change and the role of scientists and scientific institutions in public debate. The collection includes some of my own thoughts on some of the recent controversies which have swirled around the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Friday, 16 January 2015

New Year, New Job

By Helen

I've been a bit quiet on this blog over the past few months, mostly because I was in the final throes of writing up my PhD thesis. I finally completed that task in December, and after a bit of R & R over the Christmas break I've now returned to the 3S research group at UEA as a senior research associate, looking at public participation in and around the energy system. Initially I'm working on the Realising Transition Pathways (EPSRC) project, following up on the Making energy publics workshop which I helped to organised in April last year. I'll produce a full report of the workshop soon and then we're hoping to write a review paper based on some of the themes of the workshop.