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episode 108: Sara J. Grossman, "Immeasurable Weather: Meteorological Data and Settler Colonialism from 1820 to Hurricane Sandy" (Duke UP, 2023)


In Immeasurable Weather: Meteorological Data and Settler Colonialism from 1820 to Hurricane Sandy (Duke UP, 2023), Sara J. Grossman explores how environmental data collection has been central to the larger project of settler colonialism in the United States. She draws on an extensive archive of historical and meteorological data spanning two centuries to show how American scientific institutions used information about the weather to establish and reinforce the foundations of a white patriarchal settler society. Grossman outlines the relationship between climate data and state power in key moments in the history of American weather science, from the nineteenth-century public data-gathering practices of settler farmers and teachers and the automation of weather data during the Dust Bowl to the role of meteorological satellites in data science’s integration into the militarized state. Throughout, Grossman shows that weather science reproduced the natural world as something to be measured, owned, and exploited. This data gathering, she contends, gave coherence to a national weather project and to a notion of the nation itself, demonstrating that weather science’s impact cannot be reduced to a set of quantifiable phenomena.

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 February 28, 2024  41m