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Dr. Francis Ludlow

Assistant Professor (History)

  Climate History   environmental history   Historical Climatology
 Historical Dynamics of Violence, Conflict and Extreme Weather in Medieval Ireland

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Research Affiliate, Center for Geographic Analysis, Harvard University 2012 2013
Visiting Scholar, Initiative for the Science of the Human Past (SoHP), Harvard University 2011 2013
Visiting Scholar, MacMillan Center, Genocide Studies Program, Yale University 2014 2015
Honourary Adjunct Assistant Professor, Trinity Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin 2014 2016
Research Associate, Trinity Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin 2011 2013
Member of the Agricultural History Society of Ireland (AHSI) 2014 Present
Member of the Forum for Medieval & Renaissance Studies in Ireland (FMRSI) 2012 Present
Member of the European Society for Environmental History (ESEH) 2010 Present
Member of the Quaternary Research Association (QRA) 2010 Present
Member of the Economic and Social History Society of Ireland (ESHSI) 2010 Present
Member of the Irish Meteorological Society (IMS) 2009 Present
Member of the Climate History Network (CHN) 2012 Present
Co-founder, with Profs. Poul Holm and David Dickson, Convener & Co-Convener of the Irish Environmental History Network (IEHN) 2009 Present
Member of the Irish Quaternary Association (IQUA) 2006 Present
Member of the Geographical Society of Ireland (GSI) 2006 Present
Member of the Medieval Chronicle Society 2011 Present
Visiting Scholar, Dendrochronology Laboratory, Queen's University Belfast, September to October, 2006 and again, December to January 2011-2012 2006 2012
Poul Holm; Francis Ludlow Cordula Scherer Charles Travis Bernard Allaire Cristina Brito Patrick W. Hayes Al Matthews Kieran J. Rankin Richard J. Breen Robert Legg Kevin Lougheed John Nicholls, The North Atlantic Fish Revolution, c. AD 1500. Hypotheses, methodologies, and ways forward, Quaternary Research, 2019, p1-38 , Journal Article, IN_PRESS
Climate, Debt and Conflict: Environmental History as a New Direction in Understanding Early Modern Ireland in, editor(s)Sarah Covington, Vincent Carey, Valerie McGowan-Doyle , Early Modern Ireland: New Sources, Methods, and Directions, London, Routledge, 2018, pp200-230 , [Francis Ludlow, Arlene Crampsie], Notes: [Studies from many regions have shown suggestive links between violence, conflict, climatic changes and extreme weather; studies of the modern era have also identified associations. The mechanisms underlying these associations are contested, however, and considerably more complex than allowed for by some studies, often with an absence of input from the humanities and social sciences. A need therefore exists for nuanced historical analyses that assess the role of environmental pressures in the inception, severity, spatiotemporal evolution and outcomes of conflict, alongside political, socioeconomic and wider cultural factors. In this chapter we utilize a case study approach to both develop our recent work outlining the wealth of human accounts and natural proxy sources available to reconstruct the period's environmental history, and to highlight the array of advantages inherent in an approach integrating environmental history with social, economic and political history. In doing so this chapter illuminates a range of potential new directions for the wider historiography of the period as well as for environmental historians and those working in cognate disciplines. In particular, we illustrate the means by which abrupt climatic changes, extreme weather and other hazards can act as 'revelatory crises' that expose hidden or latent cultural, economic and political faultlines and tensions, and test the extent to which extreme weather events may be identified and characterized as a force in catalyzing or hastening societal change in early modern Ireland.], Book Chapter, PUBLISHED  URL
Environmental History of Ireland, 1550-1730 in, editor(s)Jane Ohlmeyer , Cambridge History of Ireland: Volume 2, Early Modern Ireland, 1550-1730, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2018, pp608 - 637, [Francis Ludlow, Arlene Crampsie], Notes: [Environmental history addresses three interrelated themes: first, the influence of the environment on human societies; second, changes to the environment wrought by humans; and third, human attitudes towards and perception of the environment. Now a thriving discipline internationally, its study in Ireland has only recently begun in a concerted manner, but can draw from the abundant work already undertaken by social, economic and political historians, historical geographers, anthropologists, industrial and environmental archaeologists and palaeoecologists. Ireland's rich history, moreover, with deep and varied historical and natural archives, makes it an ideal location to study environmental history. This chapter presents an overview of several existing research themes relevant to Irish environmental history for the transformative period between 1550 and 1730, supplementing this with information drawn from documentary sources and natural environmental archives such as ice cores and tree-rings. In doing so, this chapter seeks to help situate the studies by other contributors to this volume in their broader environmental context and to explore a hitherto little- examined aspect of Irish historiography. It also provides an overview of the environmental and landscape impact of the dramatic political and social developments of the period, including the introduction of new agricultural practices, the emergence of new settlement types and impacts from the greater integration of the Irish economy into that of Europe and the Atlantic World.], Book Chapter, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
STEAM Approaches to Climate Change, Extreme Weather and Social-Political Conflict in, editor(s)Armida de la Garza Charles Travis , The STEAM Revolution: Transdisciplinary Approaches to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Humanities and Mathematics, New York, Springer, 2018, pp33 - 65, [Francis Ludlow, Charles Travis], Notes: [Climate history and historical climatology are closely evolving fields that aim (1) to reconstruct past climatic conditions and (2) examine the societal impacts of climatic changes. Such research can be characterized as a multi-disciplinary STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Humanities and Mathematics) frontier that thrives under multidisciplinary collaboration. This chapter presents two case studies pertaining to each aim, linking palaeoenvironmental data from ice cores and tree-rings with climatic and societal information preserved by the long Irish tradition of annalistic record keeping between the fifth or sixth to seventeenth centuries. The product of this recording survives today in texts known collectively as the "Irish Annals", which provide detailed time series of extreme weather experienced in Ireland. The first case study revisits work that employs the Irish medieval record of severe cold weather together with Greenland ice core sulphate records to reveal a persistent winter-season climatic impact from explosive volcanism at Ireland's climatically sensitive northeast Atlantic location. This result complements evidence of spring-summer (i.e., growing season) volcanic climatic impacts identified from tree-rings, and furthers our understanding of the potential impacts of the next big eruption or of geoengineering implemented via the stratospheric injection of sulphur dioxide. The second case study compares Irish annalistic evidence of violence to evidence of drought gleaned from Irish oak tree-ring growth widths. This exercise reveals suggestive linkages between extreme weather and violence, operating most obviously (but likely not solely) via the pressures of scarcity induced resource competition. This comparison also shows that medieval Irish society was not a passive victim of extreme weather, with a range of coping strategies available to restore order. Such knowledge is critical at a time when an increased risk of conflict arising from anthropogenic climatic change is regarded by many scholars and policymakers as a key security issue. Suggestions that human-induced climate change may act to catalyze contemporary or future violence and conflict remain controversial, however, with data shortages and the complexity of societal "pathways" that may connect climate to conflict presenting major research barriers. STEAM approaches that combine different methodologies and evidentiary bases to facilitate the examination of multiple historical climate parameters and a broad range of conflict typologies are thus essential to identifying the range of possible correlations between climate, violence, and conflict, and to resolving the complex pathways underlying observed correlations. Both case studies presented here illustrate how multidisciplinary STEAM approaches, well represented by climate history and historical climatology, can meaningfully inform contemporary debates by revealing how humanity has been influenced by past environments. ], Book Chapter, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Agrarian Change and Agricultural Development in, editor(s)Hilary Callan , The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology, Wiley-Blackwell, 2018, [Samara Brock, Alder S. Keleman, Francis Ludlow, Amy Johnson, Michael R. Dove], Notes: [In the late nineteenth century evolutionary theories shaped anthropological thinking about society's development and the diffusion of innovations like agricultural production, which was framed as a natural progression from hunter‐gatherer lifeways. Cultural ecology models of the 1950s looked at functional relationships between the environment and adaptation, interpreting cultural traits as homeostatic systems that ensured equilibrium between people and their environment. Political economy analyses in the mid‐twentieth century countered the notion that agriculture development arose from the environment, focusing rather on the role that human labor and other social factors played in driving agriculture. In the late twentieth century critiques of power and of discourses that depicted indigenous agricultural systems as backward emerged. Recent years have seen a focus on resistance to an increasingly globalized food system through analysis of food sovereignty and organic and fair trade agriculture, as well as the role of a changing climate in driving agricultural change.], Book Chapter, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Indigenous Agriculture and the Politics of Knowledge in, editor(s)P. Sillitoe , Indigenous Knowledge: Enhancing its Contribution to Natural Resources Management, Cambridge & Wallingford, CABI Publishing, 2017, pp203 - 217, [Alder Keleman, Samara Brock, Luisa Cortesi, Chris Hebdon, Amy Johnson, Francis Ludlow, Michael R. Dove], Notes: [Summary: In the face of current environmental threats, many developers of agricultural technology are now trying to adopt principles of risk-buffering and sustainable increase. However, as argued in this chapter, integrating these spheres of knowledge and practice requires more than a simple mechanical overlapping of techniques and technologies. Researchers and practitioners interested in actively supporting new approaches to agriculture co-developed with traditional or indigenous agricultural knowledge (TIAK) must pay close attention to the politics of knowledge. Here, we provide a brief background on how political currents have historically been reflected in the development of agricultural technologies, and we draw on case studies to demonstrate the political aspects of the recognition, valuation and implementation of knowledges that might be defined as 'traditional' or 'indigenous'. These case studies draw on the fieldwork and analysis of Ludlow (Ireland), Dove (Indonesia), Cortesi (India) and Hebdon (Ecuador).], Book Chapter, PUBLISHED  URL
Joseph G. Manning, Francis Ludlow, Alexander R. Stine, William Boos, Michael Sigl, Jennifer Marlon, Volcanic Suppression of Nile Summer Flooding Triggers Revolt and Constrains Interstate Conflict in Ancient Egypt, Nature Communications, 8, 2017, pArticle Number: 900 , Notes: [Volcanic eruptions provide tests of human and natural system sensitivity to abrupt shocks because their repeated occurrence allows the identification of systematic relationships in the presence of random variability. Here we show a suppression of Nile summer flooding via the radiative and dynamical impacts of explosive volcanism on the African monsoon, using climate model output, ice-core-based volcanic forcing data, Nilometer measurements, and ancient Egyptian writings. We then examine the response of Ptolemaic Egypt (305-30 BCE), one of the best-documented ancient superpowers, to volcanically induced Nile suppression. Eruptions are associated with revolt onset against elite rule, and the cessation of Ptolemaic state warfare with their great rival, the Seleukid Empire. Eruptions are also followed by socioeconomic stress with increased hereditary land sales, and the issuance of priestly decrees to reinforce elite authority. Ptolemaic vulnerability to volcanic eruptions offers a caution for all monsoon-dependent agricultural regions, presently including 70% of world population.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL
Ludlow, F., Volcanology: Chronicling a Medieval Eruption, Nature Geoscience, 10, (2), 2017, p77 - 78, Notes: [The climatic response to the eruption of the Samalas Volcano in 1257 has been elusive. Medieval archives tell of a spatially variable reaction, with Europe and Japan experiencing severe cold compared to relative warmth in North America.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Lauren Baker, Samara Brock, Luisa Cortesi, Aysen Eren, Chris Hebdon, Francis Ludlow, Jeffrey Stoike, Michael R. Dove, Mainstreaming Morality: An Examination of Moral Ecologies as a Form of Resistance, Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture, 11, (1), 2017, p23 - 55, Notes: [In this article, we ask how considerations about moral (and immoral) ecologies have motivated and shaped ecological resistance movements. The concept of 'moral ecologies' involves expectations of reciprocal, just, and sustainable relations between society and environment, which we consider a central concern of environmental movements. We analyze the cultural, material, and political importance of moral ecologies as a form of resistance by examining social movements in Alaska and Turkey, as well as ideas about sumak kawsay ('good living') in Ecuador and historical precursors in the form of the 'righteous ruler' in early medieval Ireland. Our analysis demonstrates that a focus on moral ecologies has often resonated widely, facilitated new and cross-cutting coalitions, and in some cases garnered elite support and signilcantly inmuenced national politics and landscapes.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Revolts under the Ptolemies: A Paleoclimatic Perspective in, editor(s)John J. Collins, Joseph G. Manning , Revolt and Resistance in the Ancient Classical World and the Near East: The Crucible of Empire, Leiden, Brill, 2016, pp154 - 171, [Francis Ludlow, Joseph G. Manning], Notes: [Valuable insights and a comparative framework have been offered by scholars such as Brian McGing to further our understanding of some of the most important events in Ptolemaic history, namely the intermittent revolts and other forms of social unrest that punctuated the history of Ptolemaic Egypt, 305-30 BCE. There is much we know about this unrest, beginning with a basic chronology from literary and documentary sources. Often, however, we lack certainty of the exact timing and spatial evolution of these events. For we are dealing not only with singular self-contained events, but with consecutive and sometimes overlapping series of social disturbances of varying intensities and durations, some long-lasting, others short-lived, with different geographic extents, documented in varying degrees of fidelity throughout the centuries of Ptolemaic rule. Our goal in this chapter is to outline the main explanations offered to date for the causes of unrest in the Ptolemaic period, before proceeding to contribute a new perspective that implicates volcanically-induced shocks to the agriculturally-critical summer Nile flood as potential triggers in many revolts.], Book Chapter, PUBLISHED  URL

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Matthew Toohey, Francis Ludlow, Allegra LeGrande, Kevin J. Anchukaitis, Michael Sigl, Interdisciplinary Views on the Impacts of Volcanic Eruptions: From Global to Personal, Past Global Changes Magazine, 24, (2), 2016, p78 , Notes: [The inaugural workshop of the PAGES Volcanic Impacts on Climate and Society (VICS) working group convened approximately 50 established and early-career researchers from across Europe, North America, South America and Asia. Attendees, representing a wide range of research fields, presented on topics grouped into three broad themes: reconstructing volcanic activity and climate forcing through time, climatic responses to volcanic eruptions, and societal resilience and vulnerability to volcanically induced climate change. Discussion sessions focusing on key cross-cutting scientific questions were held to stimulate brainstorming of potential products for the working group.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Matthew Toohey, Michael Sigl, Francis Ludlow, Allegra N. LeGrande, Kevin J. Anchukaitis, Volcanic Impacts on Climate and Society Working Group, Past Global Changes Magazine, 24, (1), 2016, p29 , Notes: [Volcanic eruptions are an awe-inspiring example of a natural driver of environmental change. At the local scale, erupted lava, ash and gases can have a drastic impact on the environment, with sometimes severe impacts on ecosystems, human health and economies. Global scale impacts can be produced by major volcanic eruptions, like those of Mt. Pinatubo (1991), or Tambora (1815). Such large-scale effects are due primarily to the injection of sulfur into the stratosphere, resulting in the formation of sulfate aerosols. The primary impact of these aerosols is a decrease in global temperature; however, the aerosols can also affect atmospheric circulation and precipitation patterns, leading to complex regional-scale climate impacts. Information on the climate anomalies resulting from volcanic eruptions in the Earth's past therefore provides important insights for understanding the global and regional climate responses to external forcing agents. This in turn informs predictions of future climate change, such as that due to projected increases in anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Volcanically induced climate changes also provide valuable test cases for understanding the impact of climate variability on society.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Matthew Toohey, Francis Ludlow, Allegra LeGrande, How did Climate and Humans Respond to Past Volcanic Eruptions?, Eos: Earth & Space Science News, 97, 2016, Notes: [To predict and prepare for future climate change, scientists are striving to understand how global-scale climatic change manifests itself on regional scales and also how societies adapt-or don't-to sometimes subtle and complex climatic changes. In this regard, the strongest volcanic eruptions of the past are powerful test cases, showcasing how the broad climate system responds to sudden changes in radiative forcing and how societies have responded to the resulting climatic shocks.], Journal Article, PUBLISHED