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State, Science and the Skies: Governmentalities of the British Atmosphere

  • Offers the most extensive historical and geographical account of atmospheric government and pollution in Britain, available today
  • Presents archival material from 150 years of British history that represents an original contribution to our knowledge of the history of science and government
  • Develops an innovative combination of Foucauldian history of government with a history of atmospheric science
  • Raises crucial questions about the nature of state/science relations and the conditions under which environmental knowledge is produced

Series: RGS-IBG Book Series

By: Mark Whitehead(Author)

296 pages, illustrations, maps

John Wiley & Sons

Paperback | Sep 2009 | #212048 | ISBN-13: 9781405191739
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £24.99 $32/€27 approx
Hardback | Sep 2009 | #212049 | ISBN-13: 9781405191746
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £59.99 $77/€65 approx

About this book

Utilizing environmental archival materials from the UK, State, Science and the Skies presents a groundbreaking historical account of the development of a state science of atmospheric pollution. Offers the most extensive historical and geographical account of atmospheric government and pollution in Britain, available today.

"Mark Whitehead's 2009 book State, Science and the Skies constitutes a compelling and important contribution to the RGS–IBG Book Series [...] This fascinating book is part of an increasing literature on a much neglected area of study: the role and importance of the atmosphere in our lives (e.g. Jankovic, 2000; Latour, 2003; Strauss and Orlove, 2003; Kessel, 2006; Thornes, 2008) [...] State, Science and the Skies should provide us with an important guide to the geographies of the atmosphere. It is especially helpful in order to cultivate some sense of relief to Sloterdijk's (2009) emphasis on the air as a means of administering death through environmental means."
Geoform, 1 September 2012

"State, Science and the Skies is a carefully researched and politically important work. Creatively developing Foucault's work on governmentality, it shows the complex interrelations of technology, policy and practice. Taking the atmosphere as an object of government, it insists on the essential vertical dimension of the geographies of the modern state."
– Stuart Elden, Professor of Political Geography, Durham University

"State, Science and the Skies is a superbly crafted synthesis of the making of a modern climatological state. Whitehead follows the expert and the state in their creation of atmospheric government and its aerial responsibilities. Blending a robust historical narrative with thought-provoking analyses of atmospheric lives of boiler attendants, employers, government inspectors and housewives, Whitehead provides an important framework for thinking about the current concerns surrounding climate change and air pollution. State, Science and the Skies is bound to become a major reference in all future discussions about the scientific and political constructions of environmental life in modern Britain and beyond."
– Vladimir Jankovic, Lecturer, Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine University of Manchester


List of Figures and Tables
Series Editors' Preface
List of Abbreviations

1 Introduction: Space, History and the Governing of Air Pollution
2 Historical Geographies of Science and Government: Exploring the Apparatus of Atmospheric Knowledge Acquisition
3 Science, Sight and the Optics of Air Government 37
4 Governing Air Conduct: Exhibition, Examination and the Cultivation of the Atmospheric Self
5 Instrumentation and the Sites of Atmospheric Monitoring
6 A National Census of the Air: Spatial Science, Calculation and the Geo-Coding of the Atmosphere
7 Automating the Air: Atmospheric Simulations and Digital Beings
8 Environmental Governmentalities and the Ecological Coding of the British Atmosphere
9 Conclusion: Learning Like a State in an Age of Atmospheric Change


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Mark Whitehead is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University; and Senior Research Fellow at the City Institute, York University, Toronto. His published works include Spaces of Sustainability: Geographical Perspectives on the Sustainable Society (2006); and The Nature of the State: Excavating the Political Ecologies of the Modern State (co-author, 2007).

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