Oxford Environmental History Network Forum:‘Managing Airs and Climates: New Approaches from History and Beyond’

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Convenors: Netta Cohen (Christ Church), Harriet Mercer (Pembroke College), Marie Thébaud-Sorger (MFO)


Speakers will include Vladimir Jankovic (Manchester), Javier Lezaun (University of Oxford), Sara Miglietti (Warburg Institute London), Amanda Powers (University of Oxford), Michael Drolet (University of Oxford), Rowan Boyson (King’s College London), Derek McCormack (University of Oxford).




The current corona crisis as well the ongoing climate crisis are drawing increased attention to the question of how humans manage the air around them. From debates about social distancing and the efficacy of masks to urban pollution and carbon capture technologies, issues about air management are pressing present-day concerns. Yet these concerns are not completely new.

This forum aims to start a conversation about historical cases and episodes of air management. In particular, we are interested in asking how spatial concepts and infrastructures such as local-global, urban-rural and inside-outside have shaped past efforts to manage air. How, for instance, has the air of particular spaces such as ships, hospitals and war zones been managed in the past? What technologies and practices have people developed to manage air? And how did those technologies shape the way people conceptualized the air around them?

Due to the current crisis, the forum will take place online and will be more informal than originally planned. Nonetheless, it represents an important first step in bringing together scholars from across fields as well as from various career stages. The convenors hope it will be the first of many workshops and events that bring together scholars who are interested in questioning and theorizing the various concepts used to understand past efforts to manage airs and climates.


PLEASE NOTE: This event will be held online via zoom. ‘Audience’ registration is required. To register, please emails marie-aline.thebaud-sorger@history.ox.ac.uk.


The forum is taking place thanks to the support of the Maison Française d'Oxford, the Centre for the HSMT, and the OEHN.


Download the event summary