I’m pleased to be able to share my paper on meteorology in colonial Mauritius, which appears in a special issue of the British Journal for the History of Science on ‘Science and Islands in the Indo-Pacific World‘.
The editors – Sebastian Kroupa, Stephanie J. Mawson and Dorit Brixius – did a great job of shepherding together a broad range of papers, which together situate the island historiographically not as “a cipher in a global model, where the Earth can be gazed at from the aqueous space above it”, but as a site of a “grounded history of different complexes, human and non-human, indigenous and migratory”, as Pablo F. Gómez and Sujit Sivasundaram put it in their Epilogue.
The paper brings together archival research I did in the UK and in Mauritius. However, there is as always much more to say. What I didn’t have space to reflect on much in this paper was the interactions of the human and the non-human in creating spaces of meteorological observation, particularly the Royal Alfred Observatory itself. A lot’s been written about the observatory as a carefully delineated social space; I’m interested in pushing that a bit further to think about how microbes, germs, instruments and the weather itself overwhelmed the carefully-constructed boundaries of watchful science. But that’s for another day…
I was delighted to be a part of this effort and my thanks are due to the editors and reviewers who helped my paper along. The collection as a whole will undoubtedly continue to inform how I try to tackle some of the conceptual and historiographical challenges raised by these histories (and geographies) of colonial science.