Battling the Sky. A Spatial History of the Hail Cannon

In eighteenth and nineteenth-century Europe, hailstorms posed an existential danger. Rural communities devised varied strategies to dispel storm clouds and defend their crops. Shooting the clouds with cannons and rifles was believed to be a particularly effective solution. However, the practice engendered heated debates among scholars and neighboring communities that accused each other of making things worse by sending storms their way. This project combines historical, modeled, and contemporary meteorological and climate data with printed and manuscript sources to develop a spatial history with a distinctly vertical dimension. My aim is also to further a methodological discussion. One characteristic of spatial history is that it sustains a horizontal vision of space; not unlike geopolitics, it is largely a flat discourse. This project offers an opportunity to explore how geospatial technologies allow us to engage with depth and altitude and represent volumes rather than areas.

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