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IS-DAAD-Forskerutveksl. Norge-Tyskland

Riddles of the atmosphere. Knowledge gaps between sky and earth

Awarded: NOK 44,992

The project's aims are twofold: to extend the already existing research network on the aurora borealis at the University of Tromsø (established in 2008) and to prepare a proposal together with the University of Hanover on the history of the scientific and cultural appropriation of sky phenomena. This proposal will be an extension of the project "Making Sense of the Aurora" (see "placement"). The project "Making Sense of the Aurora" focuses on the history of attempts to investigate the aurora. It opens ont o a number of themes for analyzing the study of nature within political-cultural and intellectual contexts as well as for investigating complex scientific practices. Although the aurora has been the subject of popular historical writing, it has rarely bee n the object of professional historical study. A key theme from the start of concerted scientific interest in the aurora in the early 1700s and through to the 1900s is that of constituting the object of inquiry: how did researchers and writers try achievi ng consensual descriptions and explanation of this fleeting phenomenon, which is only occasionally visible south of high-northern latitude? How did they seek to apprehend this seemingly inaccessible and ever changing light-in-the-sky through disciplined o bservational practices, instrumental models, visual reproductions, and narrative strategies to establish a stable object for study? Insight came from polar explorers, travellers, writers, artists, indigenous peoples, and a variety of disciplinary speciali sts: whose claims counted? Through the co-operation with the research group "Literarische Meteorologie" at the University of Hanover it will be possible to gain a deeper understanding of 1) how sky phenomena are constituted and represented in science, ar ts, and literature, and 2) the processes that led to the emergence of national research traditions and modern scientific culture.

Funding scheme:

IS-DAAD-Forskerutveksl. Norge-Tyskland