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Lecture by Fabian Drixler from Yale University

Jul 11, 2017

On Tuesday, July 11, Prof. Fabian Drixler, Professor of History at Yale University, gave a guest lecture on “Fractal Vulnerability: Japan in the Volcanic Winters of the Early Modern World” at the Karls-Jaspers-Center as part of his visit to the Cluster until the end of July.

His lecture dealt with volcanic winters, which have emerged as a vibrant new genre of global history since during these winters an eruption briefly changes the climate of an entire hemisphere. These studies highlight teleconnections that nationally bounded histories have long ignored. By the same token, they also have a tendency to pay more attention to those places that fell into turmoil under the stratospheric sulfate veils than to those that remained well-fed and stable. His talk concerned both kinds of areas and argues that they interlaced in a fractal pattern in which at different spatial scales, location was a key determinant for welfare and survival. The focus is on Tokugawa Japan, a society so abundantly documented that the effects of climate shocks at a high resolution can be traced – as well as speculations be made about what features of its political economy made the land of the Great Peace so vulnerable to faraway eruptions.

The lecture took place on July 11 from 4 to 6 pm at the Karl Jaspers Center for Transcultural Studies in room 212.

Fabian Drixler will be staying at the Cluster “Asia and Europe” until the end of the summer term. He is Professor of History at Yale University and specializes in the history of Tokugawa Japan and historical demography, with a new interest in climate history. He has published on topics such as the use of simulation methods and digital maps in history, a lost regime of family planning in eighteenth-century Ceylon, and the politics of migration in Tokugawa Japan.

During his weeks at the Cluster, he is hoping to complete an article manuscript on “The lost History of Azuma: Alternative Japanese Nations in the Meiji Restoration” and continue work on his current book project, tentatively entitled “Fractal Inequality: Japan in the Volcanic Winters of the Early Modern World”. He hopes that serendipitous encounters at Heidelberg open up other topics for intellectual exchanges or collaborations, such as how to create venues for publishing image-driven scholarship.

For conversations about areas of mutual interest, very broadly defined, Prof. Drixler is available at Voßstraße 2, room 114 until the end of the term or at fabian.drixler@yale.edu.


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