This dissertation is a social history of meteorology in nineteenth-century China. It examines the intertwining relationship among commerce, natural disaster, and science and technology by focusing on how merchants in China's treaty ports and Hong Kong exerted their influence upon the incipient public weather service. Frequent and powerful typhoons, which threatened the primary business in steam shipping and marine insurance of these merchants, constituted their major concern for establishing a network of meteorological observation and typhoon warnings at the China coast. They mobilized public opinions through the English-language daily newspapers circulated among ports to incorporate various observers, including an observatory established by French Jesuits at Shanghai, shipmasters of mercantile marine, the foreign staff of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs, and a British governmental observatory in Hong Kong. Their purpose was to secure among coastal ports the transmission and distribution of telegraphic typhoon messages, especially those from another Jesuit observatory in Manila; for typhoons usually came from the seas close to the Philippines. Typhoon warnings thus became the major task of the early China-coast meteorology.
With such main lines, this dissertation highlights three closely related aspects of the development of meteorology in nineteenth-century China. First, it exemplifies the active participation of the inter-port mercantile community in the scientific enterprise. Second, it identifies multilateral scientific, imperial, and commercial agencies from a wide spectrum that were involved in the coordination and competition of the meteorological work. Third, the dissertation nuances the development of "telegraphic meteorology," a combined practice of technology and science in nineteenth-century China. It is a synthesis of meteorological narratives which went beyond the usual national, imperial and colonial perspectives; not only of Shanghai and Hong Kong, but also of Manila; not only of the British Empire in China, but also of the French in Shanghai and the American in the Philippines. It is a story about how an inter-port mercantile society under such heterogeneous settings responded to the natural disaster. The focus on the role of a mercantile community in closely linked ports or around the globe might improve our understanding of science and technology in the modern world.
|Commitee:||Chaffee, John, Kim, Sonja M., Kutcher, Gerald J.|
|School:||State University of New York at Binghamton|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-A 73/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||History, Meteorology, Modern history, Science history|
|Keywords:||China, Intelligence, Inter-port, Mercantile community, Nineteenth century, Telegraphic meteorology, Typhoon, Weather service|
Copyright in each Dissertation and Thesis is retained by the author. All Rights Reserved
The supplemental file or files you are about to download were provided to ProQuest by the author as part of a
dissertation or thesis. The supplemental files are provided "AS IS" without warranty. ProQuest is not responsible for the
content, format or impact on the supplemental file(s) on our system. in some cases, the file type may be unknown or
may be a .exe file. We recommend caution as you open such files.
Copyright of the original materials contained in the supplemental file is retained by the author and your access to the
supplemental files is subject to the ProQuest Terms and Conditions of use.
Depending on the size of the file(s) you are downloading, the system may take some time to download them. Please be