Meshworks and the Making of Climate Places in the European Alps

A Framework for Ethnographic Research on the Perceptions of Climate Change

in Nature and Culture
Restricted access

Abstract

Ethnographers studying the local dimensions of climate change find themselves confronted with a methodological problem: climate change is both an abstract concept and a locally present phenomenon, yet it does not emerge from lived experience. We tackle this problem by means of a research framework that combines discussions on place and Tim Ingold’s (2011) idea of a meshwork. This article is based on research on climate change perceptions in two Alpine communities, located in Bavaria (Germany) and South Tyrol (Italy), respectively. We show how a focus on climate knots and their meshworks allows the grasping, describing, and visualizing of the different dimensions of climate change in these two local settings. This framework, as we further show, helps to reveal social and cultural patterns and underlying structures.

Contributor Notes

Sophie Elixhauser is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen, Scotland. She received an MA in social and cultural anthropology from the University of Munich and a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Aberdeen. She conducted field research in the Philippines and the Italian Alps, and long-term fieldwork in East Greenland. Her research interests include human-environmental relations, interpersonal communication, perception and movement, tourism, and climate change. In her postdoctoral project that formed part of the cooperative project “Regional Climates,” she explored perceptions of climate change and environmental changes in the Italian Alps. E-mail: s.elixhauser@abdn.ac.uk

Stefan Böschen is Professor for Technology and Society at HumTec, RWTH Aachen, Germany. He studied chemical engineering, philosophy, and sociology, and holds a diploma in chemical engineering, and a doctoral degree and habilitation in sociology. His current research focuses on the sociology of science, sociology of modernity, risk sociology, environmental research—with special emphasis on transdisciplinary and problem-oriented research—technology assessment, the analysis of risk politics, and risk communication. He was a principal investigator for the cooperative project “Regional Climates” (2010–2013), funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. E-mail: stefan.boeschen@humtec.rwth-aachen.de

Katrin Vogel holds an MA in social and cultural anthropology from the University of Munich, and a doctoral degree from the University of Bayreuth, Germany. She taught anthropology at universities in Munich and Augsburg, and she conducted fieldwork in Spain, Venezuela, and Germany. From 2011–2015 she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Environment Science Centre, University of Augsburg. Her research interests revolve around questions of climate change, sustainability, mobility, consumption, materiality, and gender. As part of the project team “Regional Climates,” she conducted fieldwork in the Bavarian Alps, Germany, focusing on local perceptions of climate change. E-mail: katrin.vogel@via-bayern.de

  • AmitVeret and Nigel Rapport. 2002. The Trouble with Ccommunity: Anthropological Reflections on Movement Identity and Collectivity. London: Pluto.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • AmitVeret and Nigel Rapport. 2012. Community Cosmopolitanism and the Problem of Human Commonality. London: Pluto.

  • AndersonBenedict. 1983. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Rev. ed. London: Verso.

  • AppaduraiArjun. 1996. “Global Ethnoscapes: Notes and Queries for a Transnational Anthropology.” In Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization ed. Arjun Appadurai4865. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Autonomous Province of Bolzano South Tyrol. 2011. KLIMA-Strategie. Energie-Südtirol-2050. Südtirol auf dem Weg zum KlimaLand. Südtiroler Landesregierung Ressort für Raumordnung Umwelt und Energiehttp://www.provinz.bz.it/umweltagentur/download/Klimaplan_EnergieSuedtirol2050_Ansicht.pdf (accessed 15 April 2018).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bachmann-MedickDoris. 2009. “Spatial Turn.” In Cultural Turns: Neuorientierungen in den Kulturwissenschaften ed. Doris Bachmann-Medick284328. Reinbek: Rowohlt.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BätzingWerner. 2003. Die Alpen: Geschichte und Zukunft einer Europäischen Kulturlandschaft. Munich: Beck.

  • BeckUlrich. 2007. “A New Cosmopolitanism is in the Air”. Sight and Sound. www.signandsight.com/features/1603.html (accessed 28 February 2018).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BöschenStefanBernhard GillCordula Kropp and Katrin Vogel eds. 2014. Klima von Unten: Regionale Governance und Gesellschaftlicher Wandel. Frankfurt am Main: Campus.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BöschenStefanCordula KroppIrene BrickmannSophie ElixhauserJana Türk and Katrin Vogel. 2014. “‘Responsibility for Sustainability’: Klimawandel als Kollektives Experiment?” In Vielfalt und Zusammenhalt: 36. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie (Tagungsdokumentation) ed. Martina Löw. Frankfurt am Main: Campus (CD).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • CallonMichel. 1986. “Some Elements of a Sociology of Translation Domestication of the Scallops and the Fishermen of St Brieux Bay.” In Power Action and Belief: A New Sociology of Knowledge? ed. John Law196223. London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • CaseyEdward S. 1996. “How to Get from Space to Place in a Fairly Short Stretch of Time: Phenomenological Prolegomena”. In Feld and Basso Senses of Place1352.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • CliffordJames and George E. Marcus eds. 1986. Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ColemanSimon and Peter Collins eds. 2006. Locating the Field: Space Place and Context in Anthropology. Oxford: Berg.

  • CrateSusan A. 2011. “Climate and Culture: Anthropology in the Era of Contemporary Climate Change”. Annual Review of Anthropology 40: 175194.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • CrateSusan A. and Mark Nuttall eds. 2009. Anthropology and Climate Change: From Encounters to Actions. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DeleuzeGilles and Félix Guattari. 2004. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. London: Continuum.

  • ElixhauserSophie. 2015a. “Climate Change Uncertainties in a Mountain Community in South Tyrol.” In Averting a Global Environmental Collapse: The Role of Anthropology and Local Knowledge ed. Thomas Reuter4564. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ElixhauserSophie. 2015b. “Travelling the East Greenlandic Sea- and Landscape: Encounters, Places, and Stories”. Mobilities 10 (4): 531551.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ElixhauserSophie. 2018. Negotiating Personal Autonomy: Communication and Personhood in East Greenland. Arctic Worlds. London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FalzonMark-Anthony ed. 2009. Multi-sited Ethnography: Theory Praxis and Locality in Contemporary Research. Farnham, UK: Ashgate.

  • FeldSteven and Keith H. Basso eds. 1996. Senses of Place. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press; Seattle: University of Washington Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • GanteförGerd. 2010. Klima: Der Weltuntergang findet nicht statt. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH.

  • HastrupKirsten. 2013. “Scales of Attention in Fieldwork: Global Connections and Local Concerns in the Arctic”. Ethnography 14 (2): 145165.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HirschEric and Michael O’Hanlon eds. 1995. The Anthropology of Landscape: Perspectives on Place and Space. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HolmesDouglas R. and George E. Marcus. 2005. “Cultures of Expertise and the Management of Globalization: Toward the Re-functioning of Ethnography.” In Global Assemblages: Technology Politics and Ethics as Anthropological Problems ed. Aihwa Ong and Steven J. Collier235254. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HulmeMike. 2009. Why We Disagree About Climate Change: Understanding Controversy Inaction and Opportunity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HulmeMike. 2010a. “Cosmopolitan Climates: Hybridity, Foresight and Meaning”. Theory Culture & Society 23 (2–3): 267276.

  • HulmeMike. 2010b. “The Idea of Climate Change: Exploring Complexity, Plurality and Opportunity”. Gaia 19 (3): 171174.

  • IngoldTim. 2000. The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood Dwelling and Skill. London: Routledge.

  • IngoldTim. 2011. Being Alive: Essays on Movement Knowledge and Description. London: Routledge.

  • KraemerKlaus. 2007. “Umwelt und soziale Ungleichheit”. Leviathan 35: 348372.

  • KraussWerner. 2009. “Localizing Climate Change: A Multi-sited Approach”. In Falzon Multi-sited Ethnography149164.

  • LatourBruno. 1996. “On Interobjectivity”. Mind Culture and Activity 3 (4): 228245.

  • LatourBruno. 2000. “When Things Strike Back: A Possible Contribution of ‘Science Studies’ to Social Science”. British Journal of Sociology 51 (1): 107123.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • LatourBruno. 2005. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • LefebvreHenri. 1991. The Production of Space. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • LowSetha and Denise Lawrence-Zúñiga. 2003. The Anthropology of Space and Place: Locating Culture. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

  • MarcusGeorge E. 1995. “Ethnography in/of the World System: The Emergence of Multi-sited Ethnography”. Annual Review of Anthropology 24: 95117.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MasseyDoreen. 1991. “A Global Sense of Place”. Marxism Today 38: 2429.

  • PettengerMary E. 2007. The Social Construction of Climate Change: Power Knowledge Norms Discourses. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

  • SoentgenJens. 2010. “Mythische Formulare der Klimaskeptiker in Deutschland und den USA”. Zeitschrift für Didaktik der Philosophie und Ethik 2: 130133.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SorgeAntonio and Andrew P. Roddick. 2012. “Mobile Humanity: The Delocalization of Anthropological Research”. Reviews in Anthropology 41 (4): 273301.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • StraussSarah and Benjamin S. Orlove. 2004. Weather Climate Culture. Oxford: Berg.

  • TsingAnna L. 2005. Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  • TyrrellMartina. 2013. “Enacting and Renewing Identity, Kinship and Humanity on the Sea Ice”. Polar Geography 36 (1–2): 3046.

  • VogelKatrin and Sophie Elixhauser. 2014. “Wasserwandel im Klimawandel: Mensch-Wasser-Beziehungen in zwei Gemeinden im Alpenraum.” In Böschen et al. Klima von Unten359380.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 2 2 2
PDF Downloads 4 4 4