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From Wind Roses to Meteorological Maps: Visualizing the Mistral in France and the Mediterranean World

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Abstract:

Reaching speeds of 100 kilometers per hour, the Mistral is a blast of freezing air that swoops down from the Massif Central Mountains, gusts across the French region of Provence, and spills into the Mediterranean Sea. My paper demonstrates how one type of historical document can be especially useful for exploring the Mistral’s deep entanglements with human history: cartographic archives. Because maps have the power to render visible aspects of the environment that are invisible, they offer key information about human perceptions of winds. My paper uses maps to argue that the Mistral anchored three distinct scales of modern territorial identities: supranational, national, and regional. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the people of southern France thought of the Mistral as a fundamentally “Mediterranean” wind. This view of the Mistral is evidenced in the wind roses that figured prominently on area maps of the time. Linking the Mistral to sister winds such as the Sirocco and the Levante, period maps reflected southern France’s strong identification with the Mediterranean World as an international trading zone. Beginning in the late eighteenth century, however, the Mistral became co-opted into a new geographical imaginary. Modern meteorological maps depicted the Mistral as a distinctly “French” wind. Cut off from its Mediterranean sister winds, the Mistral became caged within the geo-body of the French national state centered in Paris. After the French state had successfully absorbed the Mistral into its national map grid, however, local residents created their own wind maps as a form of resistance to state centralization. Abandoning national meteorological maps, Provençal regionalists disseminated nostalgic wind roses that emphasized the region’s autonomy from the rest of France. Maps thus reveal the Mistral’s role in shifting geographic identities—Mediterranean, French, and Provençal—and demonstrate how invisible weather patterns become entangled with political and cultural attachments.
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Name: ASEH Annual Conference
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http://aseh.net


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1170256_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Dunlop, Catherine. "From Wind Roses to Meteorological Maps: Visualizing the Mistral in France and the Mediterranean World" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL, <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1170256_index.html>

APA Citation:

Dunlop, C. "From Wind Roses to Meteorological Maps: Visualizing the Mistral in France and the Mediterranean World" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1170256_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: Reaching speeds of 100 kilometers per hour, the Mistral is a blast of freezing air that swoops down from the Massif Central Mountains, gusts across the French region of Provence, and spills into the Mediterranean Sea. My paper demonstrates how one type of historical document can be especially useful for exploring the Mistral’s deep entanglements with human history: cartographic archives. Because maps have the power to render visible aspects of the environment that are invisible, they offer key information about human perceptions of winds. My paper uses maps to argue that the Mistral anchored three distinct scales of modern territorial identities: supranational, national, and regional. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the people of southern France thought of the Mistral as a fundamentally “Mediterranean” wind. This view of the Mistral is evidenced in the wind roses that figured prominently on area maps of the time. Linking the Mistral to sister winds such as the Sirocco and the Levante, period maps reflected southern France’s strong identification with the Mediterranean World as an international trading zone. Beginning in the late eighteenth century, however, the Mistral became co-opted into a new geographical imaginary. Modern meteorological maps depicted the Mistral as a distinctly “French” wind. Cut off from its Mediterranean sister winds, the Mistral became caged within the geo-body of the French national state centered in Paris. After the French state had successfully absorbed the Mistral into its national map grid, however, local residents created their own wind maps as a form of resistance to state centralization. Abandoning national meteorological maps, Provençal regionalists disseminated nostalgic wind roses that emphasized the region’s autonomy from the rest of France. Maps thus reveal the Mistral’s role in shifting geographic identities—Mediterranean, French, and Provençal—and demonstrate how invisible weather patterns become entangled with political and cultural attachments.


 
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