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Forschungsstelle für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte


Climate Futures Past: Law and Weather Knowledge in the Indian Ocean World

My current project is a concept-history of cyclones as objects of scientific knowledge production, actuarial practices and the administration of law. I chart the entangled developments of marine insurance, tidal science and climatology from the eighteenth century by mining legal records alongside meteorological accounts and scientific treatises. My archival research on the history of insurance and the development of colonial weather science shows that much of the early history of weather and tidal science’s entanglements with insurance industries took place along the littorals of Caribbean Seas, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. Not only did these areas become nodes from and through which vast amounts of imperial goods, capital and indentured laborers crisscrossed the world, but they also incubated global financial and actuarial experiments away from the shadows of the 1720 Bubble Act and financial regulations. Overturning the dominant binaries of metropolitan/colonial I ask how we write scalar histories that recover the littoral geographies of the Indian Ocean as nested within plural legal jurisdictions and financial networks? How do we begin investigating from the conjunctures that brought insurance, law and science together in the Marine Courts in Britain’s eastern colonies? Climate Future’s Pastuses the analytic of chronoscape to argue that networks of credit and risk shaped both the contours and content of climate science.

Senior Fellow: American Institute of Indian Studies, Chicago


Narrative Science Project (International Collaborator)

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River Cities Network

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The River Cities Network (RCN) is a multi-sited global initiative to pursue action research on the interrelationship between cities and their rivers and waterways. In the RCN context, we are interested in free-flowing or engineered rivers, creeks, canals and/or networks of these as part of a river system in urban or peri-urban areas. The “river-city nexus” is our shorthand for the mutual relationship between these water bodies, their ecosystems, and the human settlements that surround them.