Master Thesis Exam: Dann Grotum Neilsen
Colonial storms: Co-producing science and colony in the Danish West Indies
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In this thesis, I analyse and discuss historical connections between natural science and Danish colonial administration in the West Indies, c. 1672 to 1917. My historical narrative concerns scientific claims made about the concept of “Hurricane” (Da. “hvirvelvind” or “orkan”), primarily by Danish scientists and natural historians, though French-, German-, and English-language accounts are also analysed. During this period, the concept was first introduced to a Danish-speaking public during the first half of the 18th century; underwent various competing definitions; before being embedded in a specific scientific discipline waying for legitimacy, namely meteorology, in the latter half of the 19th century. Two modes of analysis are applied: (a) That scientific knowledge of hurricanes was often produced or communicated in transregional networks, both within and without the so-called “hurricane zone”; (b) that scientific knowledge was repeatedly claimed to be useful in the maintenance of Danish colonial management. In the case of the Danish West Indies, claims of ‘useful knowledge’ often pertained to the economies of plantation agriculture.
Supervisor: Matthias Heymann