Appointed As

Climate Humanities Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow


ACLS Emerging Voices Fellowships program


Columbia University

PhD Field of Study

PhD, Anthropology, Stanford University

Dissertation Abstract

"Barometer Falling: Weather, Risk, and the Meteorological Imagination in Bangladesh"

Given its topography and deltaic landscape, Bangladesh has long been characterized as uniquely susceptible to climate change. But this vision of Bangladesh's population and landscape being particularly vulnerable to the ravages of climate is, paradoxically, nothing new. Weather-borne ecological disasters are historically recurrent hazards. Heralded as a “laboratory for development,” Bangladesh and its precursors, East Pakistan and East Bengal, were subject to massive landscape interventions in the coastal zone as colonial and postcolonial regimes attempted to control riverine incursion into villages. State attempts to manage weather and reorganize terrain have consistently catalyzed other vulnerabilities. Through multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork with state meteorologists and with multi-religious and multi-caste farming communities, this dissertation analyzes the modes by which Bangladeshis make sense of changing ecologies. I highlight the tensions between the environment, conceived of broadly, and various attempts to govern it. This dissertation explores the intersection of climate change as a newly emergent form of risk, against a dense history of dealing with multiple forms of risk, ecological and otherwise. By examining the consolidation of the Indian Meteorological Department in Calcutta in the 1860s and 70s, contemporary practices of forecasting at the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, the implementation and unraveling of development projects in southwest Bangladesh, and the way rural residents utilize networks of gossip and collective speculation, I show that the negotiation of risks coheres together the social across my field sites. This dissertation concludes with a discussion of what I call the meteorological imagination.