Introducing the History of Climate and Society: Themes, Frameworks, and Possibilities

Friday, January 7, 2022: 9:10 AM
Galerie 2 (New Orleans Marriott)
Dagomar Degroot, Georgetown University
Historians and scholars in many other disciplines that consider the past – archaeologists, economists, geneticists, geographers, linguists, and paleoclimatologists, among others – have long explored how natural climate changes influenced human history. This scholarship, which has been termed “climate history” or, more recently, the “History of Climate and Society” (HCS), is quickly growing in popularity and influence. This talk provides an overview and criticism of the field as a multidisciplinary endeavor. It provides a brief history of systematic attempts to link climate change to the human past, then explains the different methods, sources, and causal mechanisms pioneered by HCS scholars. It also highlights systematic shortcomings and blind spots in this scholarship, and attempts to explain their causes. Lastly, it explores whether HCS scholarship has presented a coherent revisionist framework for understanding human history – and, if so, how this framework may differ from those more familiar to most historians.