In October 2020, Centre Director Ruth Morgan presented the 2020 History Council of Victoria Annual Lecture.
The video is now available online via Youtube.
From bushfires to COVID-19, the trials of 2020 have left many wary of what tomorrow may bring. Yet ours is not the first generation to be preoccupied with tomorrow. Through historical narratives, we can reflect on futures of the past, that is, on the kinds of futures that peoples in the past expected, hoped, or feared. Although some futures past did unfold, it is not necessarily the realisation of these futures that makes them worthy of historical study. Rather, it is the particular conditions that produced those forecasts, predictions, or possibilities – as well as what they set in train and how – that is the historian’s concern. The future, after all, is always as much about the past as it is the present.
Focusing on Australian climate futures, past and possible, this lecture considers the ideas and ideals that have animated settler understandings of the continent’s climes and how their legacies may shape tomorrow.
The image of volumes of records, weather entry records, data sets and meteorological observations is courtesy of CSIRO under this Creative Commons licence.
Photographer: Bruce Miller.