Deborah R. Coen: Climate in Motion: Science, Empire, and the Problem of Scale (2018)

8 October 2018, dusan

“Today, predicting the impact of human activities on the earth’s climate hinges on tracking interactions among phenomena of radically different dimensions, from the molecular to the planetary. Climate in Motion shows that this multiscalar, multicausal framework emerged well before computers and satellites.

Extending the history of modern climate science back into the nineteenth century, Deborah R. Coen uncovers its roots in the politics of empire-building in central and eastern Europe. She argues that essential elements of the modern understanding of climate arose as a means of thinking across scales in a state—the multinational Habsburg Monarchy, a patchwork of medieval kingdoms and modern laws—where such thinking was a political imperative. Led by Julius Hann in Vienna, Habsburg scientists were the first to investigate precisely how local winds and storms might be related to the general circulation of the earth’s atmosphere as a whole. Linking Habsburg climatology to the political and artistic experiments of late imperial Austria, Coen grounds the seemingly esoteric science of the atmosphere in the everyday experiences of an earlier era of globalization.

Climate in Motion presents the history of modern climate science as a history of “scaling”—that is, the embodied work of moving between different frameworks for measuring the world. In this way, it offers a critical historical perspective on the concepts of scale that structure thinking about the climate crisis today and the range of possibilities for responding to it. ”

Publisher University of Chicago Press, 2018
ISBN 9780226398822, 022639882X
xiv+425+[4] pages

Review: Mott Greene (Nature, 2018).



Thomas Ort: Art and Life in Modernist Prague: Karel Čapek and his Generation, 1911-1938 (2013)

30 November 2013, dusan

“In most histories of Europe before the First World War, modern life in Habsburg Mitteleuropa takes on a decidedly gloomy cast. Centering on Vienna in the twilight years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, such accounts describe the failure of rationalism and the rise of a dangerous politics of fantasy. This book tells a different story, highlighting a generation of Czech writers and artists distinguished by their affirmative encounter with the modern world in the first decades of the twentieth century. Novelist and playwright Karel Čapek, along with other members of his cohort, embraced the possibilities of the post-Habsburg era. Tracing the roots of Čapek’s generation to cubist art and turn-of-the-century philosophy, author Thomas Ort shows that the form of modernism they championed led not into the thickets of fascism or communism but in fact closer to liberal political ideals.”

Publisher Palgrave Macmillan, 2013
Palgrave Studies in Cultural and Intellectual History series
ISBN 1137188863, 9781137188861
276 pages