Global environmental change, adaptation and everyday life in island communities

Authors: Alex Arnall*, University of Reading, Uma Kothari, University of Manchester
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Development, Social Theory
Keywords: Everyday, environmental change, adaptation, Maldives
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Grand Chenier, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In recent years there has been a rapid growth in studies of the ‘everyday’ in the social sciences with the increasing recognition that people’s ordinary lives and practices, although often going unnoticed by researchers, are in fact arenas of considerable social significance. However, there has been limited exploration to date of how the everyday is important in global environmental change research and what it can contribute to understanding of how different societies cope with and adapt to climate change. This article draws on ongoing, interdisciplinary research in the Maldives, a low lying island archipelago located in the Indian Ocean, south of the Indian mainland, to help address this knowledge gap. It explores empirically how island communities perceive and respond to environmental change via the deployment of day-to-day social practices, and how adaptations to weather-related shocks and stresses are accomplished through shifts in everyday behaviours and routines. Crucially, the research demonstrates how the gradual creep in cumulative adjustments in social practices that have long been unreflexive can eventually become noticed by those undertaking them, and how this loss of normality can lead to the propagation of a more widespread sense of crisis within individuals and groups.

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