The Weatherman: The Making of Prepared Farmers and the Postcolonial Predictive State in Kenya

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This article explores weather forecasting as an emergent technology of governmentality through a detailed ethnography of the ways in which the relationships between weather and crops are rendered knowable in a two-day “participatory scenario planning” (PSP) workshop in Naromoru in the Central Highlands of Kenya. Farmers were “made into meteorologists” and developed their preparedness for hazards, impacts, opportunities, strategies, and responsibilities within the context of facing El Niño. The ethnography targets seemingly novel ways of preparing farmers for El Niño. I argue that the PSP served two principal functions: (1) to redistribute responsibilities of the farmers themselves by making them into “meteorologists”; and (2) to integrate “scientific expertise” with “local knowledge” to generate public trust in the metrological institutions of the postcolonial predictive state.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNature and Culture
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)271-281
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Agrometeorology
  • El Niño
  • Governmentality
  • Participation
  • Postcolonial Kenya
  • Predictive state
  • Scenario building

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