Tremors, Critters, and Senses: Animals as Detectors of Earthquakes in Communist China

Part of the Science, Technology, Medicine & Society Speaker Series, and co-sponsored by the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies

Fa-ti Fan

State University of New York, Binghamton

Monday, 27 October 2014 | 4:00–5:30 pm

1014 Tisch Hall, Department of History

AbstractIn the 1960s and 1970s, Chinese scientists and ordinary people—or, in the parlance of the time, experts and masses—examined the possibility that animals could be used to predict earthquakes.

In this talk, Professor Fan offers a historical investigation of the theories and practices behind the study of animals as earthquake detectors in Cultural Revolution China, and explores how Chinese seismology affected American studies of earthquakes and animal behavior.

This comparative study will conclude with reflections on the intersection of science, politics, animals, and disaster response in the two societies.

Fa-ti Fan is Associate Professor of History at SUNY Binghamton. His research centers on the history of science, modern East Asia, nationalism, and imperialism. He is the author of British Naturalists in Qing China: Science, Empire, and Cultural Encounter(Harvard University Press, 2004).  

More information: Science, Technology and Society Program

The Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society (STeMS) Speaker Series is made possible by generous contributions from the Department of Communications Studies, Department of History, LS&A Dean’s Office, and the School of Information.