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The Australian National University

The Cultural History of Climate Change


Dates: 27-28 August 2012
Venue: Sir Roland Wilson Building, ANU

Program - Conference Report

Historians have long acknowledged that climates shape cultures. But culture also shapes climate—this we can no longer ignore. Our climate is increasingly an effect of contemporary forms of human life. Recognition of this interaction opens a significant new field to historical inquiry, bringing the economic, political and technological history of the carbon cycle together with cultural, aesthetic and literary reflections of climate, and linking the emergence of ecological thinking to broader transformations in the organization of knowledge.

Acknowledging that the climate is cultural also compels us to rethink many of our existing means of historical understanding. It challenges traditional notions of the historical period, of collective and individual agency, of the narrative forms of historiography, and of the basic distinction between natural and human history. It demands new ways of relating the existential and historical moments of human knowledge and action to the dimensions of geological and evolutionary time.

The cultural history of climate change is a field of scholarly inquiry that will be of central importance to social, cultural and political debates of the coming century. To provide a first speculative survey of this field, the Humanities Research Centre will hold a special conference on this theme on 27 and 28 August, 2012.

Dr Tom Ford, HRC, RSHA. E:

Updated: 24 July 2013/ Responsible Officer:  Head, HRC / Page Contact:  HRC administration