Critical Climate Adaptation
To understand the emerging and uneven geographies of sea change, I look at place-making practices of coastal reclamation and social relationships with seawalls across space and time, from colonial encounters to development schemes and climate adaptation. My earlier work on the history and politics of seawalls in Guyana examined how encounters with erosion altered the coastline, resulting in the development of a two-hundred mile sea defense structure. My dissertation examined this problem on a greater spatial and temporal scale by tracing the long history of coastal countermeasures in the Netherlands and introducing the case of the Maldives, where a seawall built by the Japanese harbors similar conflicts. Through the interwoven stories of Guyana, the Netherlands, the Maldives, and Japan, I show how these encounters fuel social conflict, transform the coast, and shape the politics of climate change adaptation. This work was awarded the Winifred and Louis Lancaster Dissertation Award in Social Sciences, an honor given to one dissertation every two years at UC Santa Barbara. I have also written on the concept of “Marine Justice” with members of the Mellon-Sawyer Seminar on Sea Change at UC Santa Barbara.
In the Shadow of the Seawall (book manuscript in process)
“Critical Adaptation Studies” (2020) UC-CSU KAN NXTerra Digital Platform and Knowledge Action Network
“What is Marine Justice?” (2019) Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. Vol 9, pp. 234-243
“Gone Before the Wave” (2014) The Occupied Times of London, 26: 9
Climate Justice Movements
A second theme of my work is focused on ideas about climate justice and struggles to mitigate the uneven impacts of climate change. I have written about the specific case of the Maldives, a small island nation once at the forefront of the climate justice movement, as well as youth activists at the U.N. Climate Treaty Negotiations in Warsaw, Poland. In 2013, I co-founded the Climate Justice Project to bring scholars and activists together in a mission to “re-imagine the world in which we live in order to make way for new possibilities.”
“Climate Justice Movements” Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainability Development Goals (forthcoming)
“This Will Change Everything: Teaching the Climate Crisis” (2018) Transformations. 28(2): 126-147
“‘Not Yet the End of the World’: Political Cultures of Opposition and Creation in the Global Youth Climate Justice Movement” (2017) Interface 9(2): 353-379
“Climate Injustice: The Real History of the Maldives” (2015) Berkeley Journal of Sociology 59: 14-25.
At the COP: Global Climate Justice Youth Speak Out (2014) Climate Justice Project E-book
“A Fight Like Many Others: What Happens in the Maldives Elections on October 19 Concerns Us All” (2013) Counterpunch
“At the Crossroads: Another Maldives Is Possible” (2013) Truthout
“Maldives at the Crossroads: Not Just Another Day in Paradise” (2013) Counterpunch
“Mohamed Nasheed’s Campaign to Restore Democracy to the Maldives” (2013) Counterpunch
Rebuilding After Disaster
Like most members of the UCSB community, the tragic series of events that culminated in the deadly Montecito debris flow occupied much of my attention from December 2017 to January 2018. I spent many hours watching news and community meetings, taking notes, thinking about how evacuation zones are drawn, and learning about the less advantaged members of Montecito. I joined a UCSB research team focusing on the biophysical hazards and social dimensions on the Montecito debris flow (with Ed Keller, Sarah Anderson, and others). I entered the group as the “qualitative expert,” interested in conducting interviews across a broader and more inclusive spectrum than the planned quantitative survey would be capable of reaching. I am now in the mid stages of this research, which links social vulnerability to climate change and community resilience in Montecito, where roughly one third of the debris flow fatalities consisted of working class immigrant families.
“Using mixed-methods to understand community vulnerability to debris flows in Montecito, CA” (forthcoming) World Landslide Forum
“Montecito debris flows of 9 January 2018: Physical processes and social implications” (2020) From the Islands to the Mountains: A 2020 View of Geologic Excursion in Southern California: Geological Society of America Field Guide 59
“Applications in geomorphology” (2019) Geomorphology
My future research involves connecting the politics of climate adaptation to the emerging field of Anthropocene Studies. I am a newcomer to this area, but have plans to engage in a relational ethnography of sand extraction to understand the social and geological forces that leave some populations vulnerable to sea change while allowing others to engage in projects of coastal resiliency. In this new study, I am interested in the movement of sand as inextricably linked to social and environmental injustices that are often overlooked by climate adaptation discourses and practices. As a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Santa Cruz, I served as a discussant for Anna Tsing’s workshop on the theme of “Planetary Transitions: Critical Landscape Ecologies of the Anthropocene” and I will be presenting preliminary research at the upcoming “Development in Question” conference at Cornell University.