Building Networks of Knowledge Exchange in Agricultural Meteorology: The Agro-Meteorological Service in French Indochina


  • Giuditta Parolini Technische Universit├Ąt Berlin


French Indochina, colonial meteorology, agro-meteorology, meteorological services


The International Meteorological Organization (IMO) is a privileged context for examining the transnational aspects of making and communicating meteorological knowledge that are the focus of this special issue. The IMO and its regular meetings offered meteorologists the opportunity to discuss national practices with their peers, debate over the design of instruments for collecting and sharing meteorological data, and learn from each other. Through these debates and collaborations networks of knowledge exchange were built and information on weather and climate circulated all over the world. The paper will examine the work of the IMO technical commission on agriculture and will focus, in particular, on the agro-meteorological service set up in French Indochina by the agronomist and climatologist Paul Carton, who was a member of the commission. It will argue that the networks of knowledge exchange established by the IMO Commission for Agricultural Meteorology were not one-way routes departing from Europe and leading to its present or former colonies or protectorates, but that they facilitated information transfer towards Europe as well as from Europe, and that this was necessary to acquire knowledge on key commodities produced in tropical areas and part of the global economy in the first half of the twentieth century.