climate change

Future Perfect: From the Pandemic to the Paris Climate Agreement. Anthropological Theory 0 (0): 1-19. Online First. DOI: 10.1177/14634996221107961, 2022. Fifteen years ago, Jane Guyer (2007) argued that the near future had largely disappeared from collective imaginaries, replaced by longer-term horizons associated with evangelical Christianity and free market capitalism. While not seeking to repudiate Guyer, this article argues that recent developments have radically altered relationships to the future. It points to a previously unrecognized connection between two of the most significant challenges facing humanity today: the experience of living through a global pandemic and international efforts to limit the harmful consequences of climate change. Responses to both phenomena invoke the grammatical structure of the future perfect tense. During the pandemic, people began to imagine themselves living at a future moment in time when they have already resumed participating in those activities they have been prevented from undertaking, an example of the future perfect. The Paris Climate Agreement, which encourages states and other parties to take action in the present so that in the future they will already have saved the planet, also relies on the future perfect. In reaction to the pandemic and climate change, the near future has reemerged as a focal point of temporal attention. This article examines how the future appears in the present and the contribution of the future perfect tense to the creation of alternative futures.

Talanoa dialogue at UN climate change meetings: The extraordinary encompassment of a scale-climbing Pacific speech genre. Oceania 91 (3): 330–348, 2021. Introduced to the UN by the Prime Minister of Fiji, the Pacific speech genre of talanoa has become a key frame for international discussion of climate change policy. Traditionally associated with kava-drinking ceremonies, talanoa includes practices that temporarily mitigate differences in hierarchy and rank, which help to facilitate the formation of consensus, a process sometimes referred to as ‘The Pacific Way’. This capacity has also motivated its application to a wide range of social interactions and speech events, scaling up from local contexts and national debates to international arenas. This includes talanoa’s contribution to the facilitation of the Paris Climate Agreement by promoting cooperation and the exchange of ideas. The Talanoa Dialogue differs from other speech genres at the UN, including the process of reconciliation through which resolutions and declarations are formulated. Fiji used its leadership role at international climate change meetings to counter representations of Pacific Islanders as passive victims of climate change, including the threat from rising sea levels. The introduction of talanoa to these meetings can be understood as an ideological project of encompassment in which a regional speech genre became an international framework for addressing one of the most consequential challenges of our times, global climate change.

Why Pacific Islanders stopped worrying about the apocalypse and started fighting climate change. American Anthropologist 122 (4): 827–839, 2020. This article questions the hierarchical assumptions of theories of “traveling models” by examining how politicians and environmental activists from the three major regions of the Pacific have contributed to global climate change policy regimes. The Marshall Islands successfully lobbied the international climate change community to ensure that the signatories to the Paris Agreement are committed to keeping the global temperature rise during the current century to “well below” 2°C, while “pursuing efforts” to limit the average temperature increase to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels. In its role as the host of the twenty-third annual Conference of the Parties to the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Fiji drew on the self-scaling Pacific speech genre of talanoa to facilitate dialogue and cooperation between the signatories to the Paris Agreement. The successful institution of Talanoa Dialogues at UN climate change meetings was not just a branding exercise, but an ideological project of encompassment. Although the Solomon Islands has a lower international profile, its responses to climate change suggest new ways of thinking about the relationship between local environmental knowledge and scientific models, and provides valuable feedback on new forms of aid focused on adaptation.

Running out? Rethinking resource depletion. The Extractive Industries and Society 7: 838–840, 2020.

lsa logoum logoU-M Privacy StatementAccessibility at U-M