Understanding Climate Change Perceptions through Assemblages: A case study from Northern and Southern Provinces, Zambia

Authors: Jenna Davis*, Yale University
Topics: Environmental Perception, Human-Environment Geography, Africa
Keywords: Climate Change, Perceptions, Development, Zambia, Smallholder
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 12
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Understanding community perceptions of climate change, especially in the agricultural development sector, has been a growing topic of inquiry over the past decade. Many perception studies, however, focus on quantitative associations between reductive socioeconomic variables such as gender, age, education, and wealth that can miss larger social, historical, and political contexts that drive farmer perceptions and subsequent adaptation decisions. To address these limitations, this study employs assemblage theory to investigate the perceptions and understandings of climate change in four communities located in two disparate regions in Zambia, the Northern Province, and the Southern Province. In doing so, I show how key differences in climate change understandings lie not necessarily along socioeconomic lines (gender, age education, etc.), but rather between these two geographic regions. Local understandings, shaped by local ecologies, histories, cultures, and development narratives mediate how community members view their agency in effecting climate change, how they negotiate their traditions in a changing world, and how new adaptation practices might be approached. This study is well situated to answer calls to compare “the understanding and responses of different farming communities, in different locations and ecological regions to document the perspectives of the local people” (Karki et al. 202019, p.91). Further, this study aims to highlight how climate change perceptions and understandings are not simply a static and predictable variable, knowable through certain criteria of education, ecology, or socioeconomic standing in a population. Rather, they are complex assemblages of knowledge that are locally situated and uniquely mediated by countless compounding factors.

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