From bushfires to COVID-19, the trials of 2020 have left many wary of what tomorrow may bring. Yet ours is not the first generation to be preoccupied with tomorrow. Through historical narratives, we can reflect on futures of the past, that is, on the kinds of futures that peoples in the past expected, hoped, or feared. Although some futures past did unfold, it is not necessarily the realisation of these futures that makes them worthy of historical study. Rather, it is the particular conditions that produced those forecasts, predictions, or possibilities – as well as what they set in train and how – that is the historian’s concern. The future, after all, is always as much about the past as it is the present.
Focusing on Australian climate futures, past and possible, this lecture considers the ideas and ideals that have animated settler understandings of the continent’s climes and how their legacies may shape tomorrow.
The lecture will be presented by Associate Professor Ruth Morgan, an environmental historian and historian of science.
Ruth is Director of the Centre for Environmental History at the Australian National University. She has published widely on the climate and water histories of Australia and the British Empire, with the support of the Australian Research Council and Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. She is the author of Running Out? Water in Western Australia (UWA Publishing, 2015) and is a Lead Author for Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, contributing to the Sixth Assessment Report due in 2021.
Ruth undertook her doctoral studies at the University of Western Australia, and was until recently based at Monash University in Melbourne. You can follow her on Twitter: @ruthamorgan
Listen to Ruth discussing her lecture topic with Michael Mackenzie on ABC Radio National's Life Matters program, 6 October 2020.
The lecture will be presented online from Canberra and Melbourne. The time zone is Australian Eastern Daylight Time. There will be opportunity to ask questions following the lecture.
Prior to the event, we will email participants a Zoom webinar link so that you can access the lecture.
The lecture will be recorded and published online. We will email you a YouTube link a few days after the lecture.
Enjoy this online event from the comfort of your own home
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