The next meeting of the History Reading Circle will take place on Wednesday 2 November at noon, in office 8.402.

We will be commenting on Prof. Philippe Forêt‘s paper,

China’s climate records: An introduction to a new research frontier.

If you are interested in receiving the paper, please contact Dr Daniel Beben.


To retrace past climate change and explore its agency in human history, American, Australian and European historians have exploited for decades various sources of information on their respective continents and in the polar regions. By contrast, the rich documentation on the history of climate in China has remained largely unfamiliar to non-Chinese historians. To bridge this geographical gap and survey a new research frontier, we will describe the basic features of Chinese materials, such as aspect, origin, and language. Thematically, we will pay attention to natural disasters, rainfall, ecology, and society, and will comment on the methods and techniques that Chinese historians have used to extract information on such topics. Taking into account “big data” and quantitative history, we will propose a more nuanced understanding of climate change and its economic and social consequences, and include in our review the political implications of questioning climate history, as well as the school of thoughts that has created a link between governance and climate. We believe that researching China’s documentation of its past climate can open new perspectives to global climate research, and result in a better appreciation of the primary sources that are written in the languages of East and Central Asia.