Rebecca Jones reviews 'Climate, Science, and Colonization' edited by James Beattie, Emily O'Gorman, and Matthew Henry

Rebecca Jones reviews 'Climate, Science, and Colonization' edited by James Beattie, Emily O'Gorman, and Matthew Henry

Climate, Science, and Colonization: Histories from Australia and New Zealand

edited by James Beattie, Emily O'Gorman, and Matthew Henry

Palgrave Macmillan, $174 hb, 302 pp, 9781137333926

Weather and climate are fascinating enigmas, their allure enhanced by their intangibility; shadows hovering in the background and yet profoundly shaping human history. Climate is always both present and absent, and its importance unnoticed.

Geoffrey Blainey observed more than forty years ago that climate was a neglected player in Australian history. Perhaps inspired by the urgency of global climate change, as well as by the burgeoning field of environmental history and, more recently, by drought in the 2000s, this disregard has begun to be addressed. Climate, Science, and Colonization makes an informative contribution to this exciting and energetic preoccupation for Australasian history. It joins a growing genre of explorations of the climate’s role in history such as Don Garden’s Droughts, Floods and Cyclones: El Niños that Shaped our Colonial Past (2009), Deb Anderson’s Endurance: Australian Stories of Drought (2014), and Ruth A. Morgan’s Running Out? Water in Western Australia (2015). Many of the authors of earlier monographs contribute to this new book. As an edited interdisciplinary collection exploring both cultural and scientific responses to climate across time, Climate, Science, and Colonization follows in the tradition of a pioneer in Australian climate history: A Change in the Weather: Climate and Culture in Australia (2005), by Tim Sherratt, Tom Griffiths, and Libby Robin. Unlike their predecessors, the editors tilt this new collection towards an academic audience.

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Rebecca Jones

Rebecca Jones

Rebecca Jones is an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow in environmental history at the Australian National University where she is researching responses to drought in Australia. She is the author of Green Harvest: A History of Organic Farming and Gardening in Australia (CSIRO Publishing, 2010). She is currently researching human responses to drought in nineteenth and twentieth Australia.

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