Last Census of Newtok: A Climate Induced Evacuation in Slow-Motion

Authors: Elizabeth Alexander*, Royal Holloway, University of London
Topics: Polar Regions, Human-Environment Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: climate, evacuation, resilience, Alaska, arctic, relocation, rural, coast
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 6
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Nature has made an example of the small Yup'ik village of Newtok, situated several miles inland from the Bering Sea, and the national press has taken notice, tracking its climate change-induced accelerating collapse into a nearby river. The state of Alaska has invested millions of dollars and decades of planning into relocating the village to a new site. By the time my 2020 Census team and I arrived in January, one third of the population had already been relocated to the new site of Mertarvik, thus we completed the last census of Newtok and the first census in the new location. Taking the census of every man woman and child revealed Newtok's slow-motion evacuation to a locale seven miles away across the river to be as much dislocation as relocation. We can learn something about adaptation and collective agency from a village which finds itself both leaving and arriving, trading one geographical location for another and in that process reconstituting not only structures but the community itself.

Abstract Information

This abstract is already part of a session. View the session here.

To access contact information login