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Mark Carey conducting research at Lake Palcacocha, Cordillera Blanca, Peru
Associate Professor Mark Carey's article, "Inventing Caribbean Climates: How Science, Medicine, and Tourism Changed Tropical Weather from Deadly to Healthy," was published in the latest issue of Osiris, called Klima. Osiris is published by The University of Chicago Press on behalf of The History of Science Society.
From Professor Carey's abstract: "This article examines how four major historical factors - geographical features, social conditions, medicine, and tourism - affected European and North American views of the tropical Caribbean climate from approximately 1750 to 1950. It focuses on the British West Indies, a region barely examined in the historiography of climate, and examines the views of physicians, residents, government officials, travelers, and missionaries. International perceptions of the tropical Caribbean climate shifted markedly over time, from the deadly, disease-ridden environment of colonial depictions in the eighteenth century to one of the world's most iconic climatic paradises, where tourists sought sun-drenched beaches and healing breezes, in the twentieth. This analysis of how environmental conditions, knowledge systems, social relations, politics, and economics shaped scientific and popular understandings of climate contributes to recent studies on the cultural construction of climate. The approach also offers important lessons for present-day discussions of climate change, which often depict climate too narrowly as simply temperature."
"The 2011 special issue of the journal Osiris, published by The History of Science Society, offers several essays that fulfill critical but often overlooked dimensions of climate change research: the social and historical aspects," said Professor Carey. "Special issue editors James Fleming and Vladimir Jankovic did a fantastic job compiling many essays devoted to a range of climate history topics - from perceptions to climate scientists, from Antarctica to northern Europe. My contribution to the historical views of Caribbean climate shows how culture and science intersect to inform views of climate over time, while also showing how the Caribbean transformed from a deadly climate into a luxurious sunny tourist destination. My work and the others in the volume should push climate discussions toward culture and values, which will augment the more common scientific studies."
Update: Mark Carey learned on October 14 that his 2010 book, Under the Shadow of Melting Glaciers, won the prestigious Elinor Melville Prize for Latin American Environmental History from The Conference on Latin American History.
From the award committee: "We had a very strong pool of nominees this year, which makes this even more impressive. We found Under the Shadow of Melting Glaciers to be exceptional for its fine-grained analysis of the varied human responses to disaster: social, political, cultural, economic, ethnic, regional, national, and international. It is also noteworthy for introducing us to some important new historical actors, such as Peru's disaster technocrats, and for using novel archival materials, including one major repository that had been organized by wheelbarrow. It presents even-handedly the viewpoints of the various social groups involved in these contentious events, including the diversity of positions adopted by rural and urban indigenous groups, and has a well-developed sense of place. Above all, it addresses a topic of great originality-the social history of humanity's relationship to ice. Within scholarship on global environmental history, it is the first major study we are aware of that focused on the cryosphere, an environmental realm at the very heart of current debate regarding global warming."
Congratulations, Professor Carey!