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Climate Theory: An Invented Tradition?

Citation: Miglietti, Sara (2019) Climate Theory: An Invented Tradition? In: Spreading Knowledge in a Changing World, ed. Charles Burnett and Pedro Mantas-España. CNERU - The Warburg Institute.

15. Climate theory, an invented tradition_.pdf

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The article responds to recent claims that the term ‘climate’ was never used in a physical or meteorological sense until the mid-eighteenth century, and that consequently the notion of 'climate theory' (often used to denote doctrines of environmental influence from Antiquity to the Enlightenment) is an anachronistic scholarly construct to be avoided at all costs. The article discusses a number of ancient and early modern examples to show that the pre-modern meaning of ‘climate’ (in its various linguistic forms) was richer than is sometimes assumed, and that a physical and/or meteorological usage of the term was in fact not completely alien to pre- modern writers. The article also raises broader methodological questions, asking whether it may be legitimate to use ‘etic’ (observer-oriented) rather than ‘emic’ (actor-oriented) categories to study the history of climate ideas.

Creators: Miglietti, Sara (0000-0003-2872-1400) and
Subjects: Classics
Culture, Language & Literature
Divisions: Warburg Institute
  • 1 July 2019 (accepted)


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