'We don't even have access to that': Uneven Geographies of Climate Knowledge in Vanuatu

Authors: Foley Pfalzgraf*, University of Hawaii
Topics: Cultural Ecology, Social Theory, Pacific Islands
Keywords: Vanuatu, Climate Change, Knowledge Production
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2020
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Plaza Court 8, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Despite the scientific consensus that Pacific Islands are our global ‘canaries in the coal mine’ for climate change, deeply at risk and equally unprepared (which should itself be contested), Pacific Islanders are largely absent from speaking on their own terms in climate research and discourse. Social theorists have critically interrogated the implications of science’s objectivity and god-trick, an ability to speak for everywhere from nowhere (Haraway 1988). This geography of scientific research matters, particularly as Pacific Islands must adapt to more extreme environments while climate knowledge is maintained by former colonial powers. These neo-colonial nations now share climate knowledge through asymmetrical development and capacity building partnerships, reinscribing historical relationships with new power relations. With new geographies of knowledge emerging, the spatiality of climate knowledge production must be analyzed with an attention to power and historical relationships. This begs the question, to what extent is there an uneven geography of climate knowledge production in Oceania and what are the implications of such inequities? This research question will be explored through an analysis of climate capacity building and development projects contextualized by qualitative interviews with climate scientists in Vanuatu.

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