Call for Papers:
Artec | Research Centre for Sustainability Studies, University of Bremen,
31 October 2013 – 01 November 2013
Denaturalizing climate change: migration, mobilities and spaces
Call for papers
This workshop has two goals: on the one side, we aim at further developing critical empirical research perspectives that address social processes linked to climate change. On the other side, we want to use climate change as a “theory machine” (cf. Helmreich 2011, Galison 2003) that helps us to gain new insights into transformation processes of the 21st century more generally.
In recent years, the climate change and mobility nexus has become a central focus for the interdisciplinary field of climate change adaptation research. Much attention has been given to defining, measuring, and consequentially managing environmentally driven migration, mirroring widespread public concerns about increased human mobility from global South to North in the context of climate change. So far, the issue has been largely discussed along existing categories of migration control, often overlapping with security discourses addressing perceived threats of future climate change. Determining the role of environmental factors for human mobility remains contentious and tends to rely on a problematic distinction between society and nature as two clearly separable realms.
With this workshop, we want to revisit the climate change and migration nexus and bring at least two bodies of critical literature into the conversation. On the one hand, the wide field of critical mobility and postcolonial theory theorizes struggles on interpretational sovereignty and asks questions on new conflicts around resources and postcolonial identities. We believe that these critical interventions, such as the transmigration perspective and the “autonomy of migration”‐ concept (Mezzadra, 2011; Moulier Boutang, 2007; Tsianos, 2007) and postcolonial perspectives that deconstruct new forms of “othering” of potential climate migrants (Farbotko 2012) should play a crucial role in our attempts to understand the social transformation processes linked to climate change. They could help us e.g. to analyse how adaptation measures and related discourses can stabilize or destabilize elites in different social fields, depending on how new resources are distributed and which epistemic communities are strengthened. On the other hand, scholars at the intersections of critical geography, anthropology and science and technology studies have challenged the society‐nature dualism with new theoretical verve (cf. Hinchliffe 2007, Castree/Braun 2001). Understanding climate change as a necessarily social and natural phenomenon at the same time opens up new perspectives on human dealings with social natures that challenge naturalizing understandings of human mobility in a climate‐changed world (cf. Piguet 2013).
Taking a broader view of literature on adaptation to climate change, we believe that the far reaching social, political and legal implications of transformations taking place within the context of climate change are so far both overpoliticized and undertheorized. They are overpoliticized in the sense that formal politics, conventions and institutions have been widely researched in recent years, and adaptation research is itself highly politicized with a wide range of contract research, lobbying groups and political interests on every side. At the same time, climate change adaptation is undertheorized, and in some ways underpoliticized, largely overlooking sub‐political practices that may change or reinforce power relations on different scales and that may create new stratification processes. Theorizing these social effects of climate change could also give a new impetus to social sciences and humanities, since many aspects of climate change are symptomatic for transformations in the 21st century. These aspects could be, but are not limited to, the following:
Climate change could have a catalytic role in conflictual North‐South relations: on the one hand, the North‐South divide sharpens and new resource conflicts arise. On the other hand, a closer entanglement of actors and a blurring of boundaries between the old binary is challenging existing power relations. In the context of climate change, old resource struggles can emerge into new configurations and connotations. How are postcolonial relations and continuities reconfigured or reinvigorated in the context of climate change and human mobility? How can the concept of climate justice be mobilized to address climate change effects beyond narrow local, regional or national frames?
The meaning of space can change radically in the light of climate change. The phenomenon of global reach challenges spatial practices on different scales, and sparks debates about future human uses of a climate‐changed environment, as in debates about the relocation or managed retreat of coastal settlements. On the level of social spaces, climate change could contribute to the emergence of cosmopolitical (Heinlein et al. 2012) and transnational spatial concepts, again through discourses on climate justice.
Furthermore, spatial aspects are often closely connected to temporalities related to risks and responsibilities. Increasingly, dealing with scientific uncertainties is recognized as an inevitable factor in political decision‐making, especially in the context of climate change. How can human mobility be conceptualized in a more complex way that acknowledges environment as social nature and evades essentializing discourses?
We invite empirically grounded papers from different disciplinary backgrounds addressing these and related aspects of climate change, human mobilities and spaces. Abstracts of proposed papers (up to 400 words) may be submitted to Dr. Silja Klepp (klepp@uni‐bremen.de). Deadline of submission is 30 April 2013. Notification of selected papers will be 30 May 2013.
If your abstract is accepted, we will ask you to send a paper for pre‐circulation and crosscommenting by October 1st. The workshop itself will consist of paper presentations followed by comments and discussion. We envisage the publication of an edited volume. Reimbursement of travel costs to Bremen will be available for a limited number of participants.
Silja Klepp, klepp@uni‐bremen.de
Friederike Gesing, f.gesing@uni‐bremen.de Johannes Herbeck, herbeck@uni‐bremen.de
Deadline for abstract submissions: 30 April 2013 Notification of selected papers: 30 May 2013 Full papers due: 01 October 2013 Workshop date: 31 October 2013 ‐ 01 November 2013
Venue: Gästehaus Teerhof, University of Bremen, Germany
Castree, Noel, and Braun, Bruce (2001) (eds.): Social nature: Theory, practice, and politics. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing
Farbotko, Carol (2012): Skilful Seafarers, Oceanic Drifters or Climate Refugees? Pacific People, News Value and the Climate Refugee Crisis, in: Moore, Kerry, Bernhard Gross & Terry Threatgold (eds.) Migrations and the Media. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 119‐142.
Galison, Peter (2003): Einstein’s Clocks, Poincar´e’s Maps: Empires of Time. New York: W. W. Norton.
Heinlein, Michael, Kropp, Cordula, Neumer, Judith, Poferl, Angelika & Regina Römhild (2012): Futures of Modernitiy. Challenges of Cosmopolitical Thought and Practice. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag
Helmreich, Stefan (2011): Nature/Culture/Seawater. In: American Anthropologist 113 (1), 132‐144.
Hinchliffe, Steve (2007): Geographies of nature: Societies, environments, ecologies. Los Angeles: Sage
Mezzarda, Sandro (2011): The gaze of autonomy:capitalism, migration and social struggles. In: Squire, Vicky (ed.) The contested policy of mobility. London: Routledge, 121‐141.
Moulier Boutang, Yann (2007): Europa, Autonomie der Migration, Biopolitik, in: Pieper, Marianne, Thomas Atzert, Serhat Karakayali & Vassilis Tsianos (ed.) Empire und die biopolitische Wende. Die internationale Diskussion im Anschluss an Hardt und Negri. Frankfurt am Main, New York: Campus, 169‐178.
Piguet, Etienne (2013): From “Primitive Migration“ to “Climate Refugees“: The Curious Fate of the Natural Environment in Migration Studies. In: Annals of the Association of American Geographers 103(1), 148‐162.
Tsianos, Vassilis (2007): Imperceptible politics. Rethinking radical politics of migration and precarity today. Dissertation, Universität Hamburg.