Talk given at the conference »Meteorologies of Modernity«, Ludwig Maximilians Universität, Munich, in cooperation with the Rachel Carson Center, Munich, June 26–29, 2014
Eva Horn discusses the thermal metaphor that many current debates on climate change draw on and outlines a historical tradition of conceptualizing »heat« as an influence on man’s bodies, minds, and culture. For a long time, climate has not been seen as a global phenomenon, subject to slow, yet catastrophic changes. From Antiquity to the age of Enlightenment, climate was understood as a stable force determining the conditions and culture of a given locality.
In these anthropological theories about the influence of climate on human bodies, minds and cultures, heat played the role of a particularly problematic climatic condition. Warm and hot climates, e.g. in Montesquieu, were supposed to make people weak, lazy, sensuous and cowardly, and prone to social ›aberrations‹ such as polygamy and slavery. Even after the demise of climatic determinism, ideas about the forming and deforming powers of heat persisted. In the minds of colonial masters, travellers, ethnographers and novelists roaming or imagining tropical climates, heat serves as universal trope for the ›strangeness‹ of the colonized. Analyzing the tropes of heat enables us to outline a broader »aesthetics of heat« as a model of a changing relation of man and climate in the Anthropocene.
Eva Horn · 19. Dezember 2014, 20:01 Uhr