27.06. Debjani Bhattacharyya (“Logistics of Turbulence”: Climate History from the Indian Ocean)
Monday, June 27, 2022 from 18:15-19:45 in person in room A336 at Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut, Koserstr. 20, 14195 Berlin. There, we look forward to welcoming Debjani Bhattacharyya of University of Zurich a talk titled ““Logistics of Turbulence”: Climate History from the Indian Ocean”.
Abstract for Debjani Bhattacharyya’s talk:
In this talk Debjani Bhattacharyya shows how the underwriting practices that developed with Britain’s imperial expansion in the Indian ocean critically shaped the very parameters of meteorology in the early 19th century. Analyzing navigational journals and insurance cases fought in the marine courts in India and the admiralty courts in London, the talk reflects on why tropical cyclones, instead of becoming limits to be overcome through scientific forecasting, were instead financialized and made profitable through a brisk and thriving underwriting business. Bridging economic and environmental history, the talk documents how the very modalities and frameworks for assessing climate disturbance emanated out of these webs of insurance and trade that enveloped the globe during this period.
Biogrophy of Debjani Bhattacharyya:
Debjani Bhattacharyya is the Chair for the History of the Anthropocene at the University of Zurich. Her research is driven by the desire to understand how legal and economic structures order our conceptualization of environmental transformations and shape how we respond to climate crisis. Her book, Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta: The Making of Calcutta (Cambridge University Press, 2018) won the 2019 honorable mention for the best book in Urban History. She is currently working on a new monograph on the Indian Ocean region, entitled, Climate Futures' Past: Law and Weather Knowledge in the Indian Ocean World. Ranging from the eighteenth century to the middle decades of the nineteenth century, the book will examine how the marine insurance industry's risk calculations shaped weather knowledge, colonial oceanographic sciences and predictions of climate futures in derivatives markets.