Places of wind and water: Community resilience/resistance on the Gulf Coast

Authors: DEBRA M BUTLER*, School for the Environment- University of Massachusetts Boston
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Environmental Science, United States
Keywords: transdisciplinary, paticipatory action research, indigenous knowledge
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Regency Ballroom, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


On the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, communities of color struggle to meet challenges of climatic change and rising seas. Tribal and indigenous communities have traditionally used stories, rituals, images, and memory as deep reservoirs of resilience when facing impending loss of home, sacred places, displacement and resettlement. As climatic impacts are “place specific”, communities invoke intersections of ethnicity, race, gender and sense of place that are in and of the life-world. This paper examines the participatory action project, a collaboration of local place-based community and "academic" researchers in development and execution of a resilience capacity building project. The research project, owned by four coastal communities located in vulnerable places, places which have routinely suffered disproportionate impacts of climatic change, seeks to understand how they might mobilize to increase resilience capacity. Each of the communities-- two in Mississippi and two in Alabama-- has been in existence for more than a century. These four coastal communities have had limited opportunities to participate in environmental, social and economic initiatives due to their relative isolation, ethnic populations and the lack of advocates Yet, these same communities-of-place employ the strengths of long lived indigenous knowledge and place-based strategies in stewarding human and natural resources. We expect that this collaborative, transdisciplinary, participatory action research project will result in a better understanding of how the synthesis of local, “traditional” knowledge and praxis, geospatial technologies and partnerships of purpose provide actionable templates for place-based communities facing the challenges of climate change

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