The three-day workshop dedicated to examining the relationships among weather/climate, technology, and everyday life in modern East Asia.

Weather and climate play a prominent role in everyday life in modern East Asia. Droughts, typhoons, floods, and monsoons haunt the lives of thousands of millions every year. Sea-level rises and hovering smog – directly related to weather and climate – alter the rhythms and outlooks of metropolitan cities. Yet, weather and climate are not simply raw physical forces, they can affect many spheres of life in complex ways. For example, weather or climate forecast is an important factor in insurance, transportation, public health, and the financial market, all of which constitute part of the everyday life of modern societies.

Moreover, weather and climate blur the boundaries of and reconfigure human geographies. Riding airstreams, clouds of pollution silently cross national borders and barb-wired fences. Global warming affects all. In the late-19th century, telegraph, weather forecast, and typhoon monitoring helped define a region encompassing Manila, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Yokohama that intersected with mercantile interests, imperial ambitions, and technoscocial imaginaries. In this sense, weather, technology, and socio-economic interests converged to create new realities of region, modernity, and everydayness (e.g. of risk assessment and short-term planning).

Therefore, the topic enables us to scrutinize conventional categories of historical narratives – e.g. nation, region, modernity, and the boundaries between nature and culture – and examine the materialities of everyday life in East Asian societies.


CRF Project “Making Modernity in East Asia: Technologies of Everyday Life, 19th – 21st Centuries” (RGC CRF The University of Hong Kong C7011-16G), Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong


May 16, 2019

3:30 Pre-Workshop Meeting

A Forum on “Climate Change and its Politics”
Forum on “Climate Change and Its Politics”
[Venue: Lecture Hall, G/F, May Hall, The University of Hong Kong] [Location Map]

Moderator: Fa-ti Fan

Greg Bankoff, “Climate Change as a Western Discourse”
Zuoyue Wang, “How Climate Change Came to China: Transnational Science and Global Warming”
Fiona Williamson, “Fixing the Climate: Future Fiction, or Historic Fact?”

May 17, 2019 [Closed-door Meeting]

9:00-9:20 Welcome Remarks (Angela Leung and Izumi Nakayama)

9:20-10:20 Ruth Rogaski, “The Qi of Heaven, the Qi of the Void: Atmosphere, Air, and the Sacred in late Qing Translated Science” (commentator: Natalie Koehle)

10:20-11:20 Greg Bankoff, “Talking Volcano: Institutional Narratives, the Nature of Risk, and Mount Mayon in the Philippines” (commentator: Fa-ti Fan)

11:30-12:30 Takuya Miyagawa, “The Changing Expectation and Role for Observatory: the Early Years of Hiroshima Observatory and Japanese Meteorological Project” (commentator: Lei Zhang)

1:30-2:30 Marlon Zhu, “Fathers to be Blamed: Media and the Public Accountability of Zikawai’s Typhoon Warnings in Treaty-Port Shanghai” (commentator: Fiona Williamson)

3:00-6:00 Field Trip to Hong Kong Observatory

May 18, 2019 [Closed-door Meeting]

9:00-10:00 Fiona Williamson, “Local Problems, Global Solutions?: Making it Rain in Hong Kong c. 1890-1930” (commentator: Marlon Zhu)

10:00-11:00 Zuoyue Wang, “How Climate Change Came to China: National Debates and Transnational Science from the 1970s to the Present” (Commentator: Greg Bankoff)

11:10-12:10 Wrap-up Session


Location Map

Photo Highlights