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Open access

Adaptation Lived as a Story

Why We Should Be Careful about the Stories We Use to Tell Other Stories

Nicole Klenk

Abstract

Within the field of climate change adaptation research, “stories” are usually simply mined for data, developed as communication and engagement technologies, and used to envision different futures. But there are other ways of understanding people’s narratives. This article explores how we can move away from understanding stories as cultural constructs that represent a reality and toward understanding them as the way in which adaptation is lived. The article investigates questions such as the following: As climate adaptation researchers, what can and should we do when we are told unsolicited stories? How can storytelling, as a way of life rather than as a source of data, inform and elaborate scientific approaches to adaptation research and planning? In this article, I move away from the literature that seeks to develop narrative methods in adaptation science. Instead, I focus on stories that we do not elicit and the world-making practice of storytelling.

Open access

Environmental Expertise as Group Belonging

Environmental Sociology Meets Science and Technology Studies

Rolf Lidskog and Göran Sundqvist

Abstract

What is environmental expertise? The background to this question is that many scholars consider environmental expertise crucial for discovering, diagnosing, and solving environmental problems but do not discuss in any depth what constitutes expertise. By investigating the meaning and use of the concept of expertise in three general theories within environmental sociology—the treadmill of production, risk society, and ecological modernization—and findings from science and technology studies (STS), this article develops a sociological understanding of environmental expertise: what it is and how it is acquired. Environmental expertise is namely about group belonging and professional socialization around specialized skills; that is, it concerns both substantial competence and social recognition. The implications of this general view on expertise are then used to enrich theories in environmental sociology.

Open access

Black October

Comics, Memory, and Cultural Representations of 17 October 1961

Claire Gorrara

Abstract

The brutal police repression of the demonstration of 17 October 1961 stands as a stark reminder of the violence of French colonialism. A continuing official reluctance to acknowledge these traumatic events has led individuals and groups to seek alternative routes for recognition. This article explores one of these alternative routes: the comic book, and specifically Octobre Noir, a collaboration between writer Didier Daeninckx and graphic artist Mako. By analyzing the reframing of 17 October 1961 within the comic form, this article argues that Octobre noir offers a site for interrogating the relationship between history and memory. This is achieved by exchanging a cultural narrative of police brutality and Algerian victimization for a narrative of legitimate protest and Algerian political agency. Octobre noir exemplifies the value of the comic book as a vector of memory able to represent the past in ways that enrich historical analysis and inter disciplinary debate.

Open access

Culturally Grounded Indicators of Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems

Eleanor Sterling, Tamara Ticktin, Tē Kipa Kepa Morgan, Georgina Cullman, Diana Alvira, Pelika Andrade, Nadia Bergamini, Erin Betley, Kate Burrows, Sophie Caillon, Joachim Claudet, Rachel Dacks, Pablo Eyzaguirre, Chris Filardi, Nadav Gazit, Christian Giardina, Stacy Jupiter, Kealohanuiopuna Kinney, Joe McCarter, Manuel Mejia, Kanoe Morishige, Jennifer Newell, Lihla Noori, John Parks, Pua’ala Pascua, Ashwin Ravikumar, Jamie Tanguay, Amanda Sigouin, Tina Stege, Mark Stege, and Alaka Wali

ABSTRACT

Measuring progress toward sustainability goals is a multifaceted task. International, regional, and national organizations and agencies seek to promote resilience and capacity for adaptation at local levels. However, their measurement systems may be poorly aligned with local contexts, cultures, and needs. Understanding how to build effective, culturally grounded measurement systems is a fundamental step toward supporting adaptive management and resilience in the face of environmental, social, and economic change. To identify patterns and inform future efforts, we review seven case studies and one framework regarding the development of culturally grounded indicator sets. Additionally, we explore ways to bridge locally relevant indicators and those of use at national and international levels. The process of identifying and setting criteria for appropriate indicators of resilience in social-ecological systems needs further documentation, discussion, and refinement, particularly regarding capturing feedbacks between biological and social-cultural elements of systems.

Open access

A Crystal Ball for Forests?

Analyzing the Social-Ecological Impacts of Forest Conservation and Management over the Long Term

Daniel C. Miller, Pushpendra Rana, and Catherine Benson Wahlén

ABSTRACT

Citizens, governments, and donors are increasingly demanding better evidence on the effectiveness of development policies and programs. Efforts to ensure such accountability in the forest sector confront the challenge that the results may take years, even decades, to materialize, while forest-related interventions usually last only a short period. This article reviews the broad interdisciplinary literature assessing forest conservation and management impacts on biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, and poverty alleviation in developing countries. It emphasizes the importance of indicators and identifies disconnects between a rapidly growing body of research based on quasi-experimental designs and studies taking a more critical, ethnographic approach. The article also highlights a relative lack of attention on longer-term impacts in both of these areas of scholarship. We conclude by exploring research frontiers in the assessment of the impacts of forest-related interventions with long incubation periods, notably the development of predictive proxy indicators (PPIs).

Open access

Being There

The 2013 Anti-Government Protests in Istanbul, Turkey

Colin W. Leach, Ayşe Betül Çelik, Rezarta Bilali, Atilla Cidam, and Andrew L. Stewart

By happenstance, we found ourselves in Istanbul, Turkey in early June 2013 only days after a mass anti-government protest developed in and around Gezi Park. In addition to informal discussions and interviews with academics and others, we visited the protest site and traveled throughout Istanbul to directly experience the atmosphere and events. We also conducted two studies of Turks’ participation in, and views of, the protests. This paper recounts the events in Istanbul that summer and reviews our own, and other, social science research on the protests and the protestors. We focus on who the protestors were and why they protested, as opposed to the less engaged actions of visiting the protests or following them in the media.

Open access

The Boy on the Beach

The Fragility of Canada's Discourses on the Syrian Refugee "Crisis

Petra Molnar

The contours of Canadian refugee policies have in recent years fluctuated from a narrative of 'bogus' refugees requiring a tough approach of interdiction to one of urgent humanitarian assistance. These rapid discursive shifts highlight the fragility of how Canada's humanitarian responses, and its place in the world, are conceptualized. Using the case study of Canada's responses to the Syrian conflict, this short paper argues that state responses must be critically interrogated in order to move away from homogenizing narratives grounded in tropes such as ‘fear’, ‘floods’ and ‘crisis’, which continue to impact how state, media, and public discourse handle the influx of refugees. Examining how the Canadian state performs its sovereignty in response to the Syrian conflict is instructive to reveal its broader nation-building projects, ones which utilize particular tropes of fear to justify suspicion and exclusion of bodies that have been cast as dangerous and uncontrollable. While Canada is once again presenting itself as a global leader in refugee and human rights issues, it remains to be seen whether these more humane policies can withstand the continuing millennial border anxieties of the West when facing the prospect of resettling increasingly large numbers of refugees.

Open access

Civil Societies and Uncivil Times

The Rubber Band Ball of Transnational Tensions

Brian Callan

This article introduces a special issue of Contention Journal addressing various contemporary mobilizations of civil society in response to the war in Syria and the migration of refugees into Europe. With contributions from Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Canada, the Czech Republic and Germany, the cases represent a breadth of multidisciplinary approaches and a variety of stylistic standpoints, from statistical media analysis to troubled personal reflections of engaged activist academics. The subject matter ranges from political mobilization against authoritarianism and austerity, transnational philanthropy, the emergence of local grassroots voluntary aid to right-wing populist nationalism. Though diverse, a coherent narrative is seen to converge around the refugee crisis as it unfolds in Europe; one of radical polarization within civil societies and starkly conflicting imaginaries of social futures that claim to preclude the legitimacy of other possibilities. At the same time alliances are being generated beyond borders in an attempt to bolster ideological capacity, authority, and force. This is not a clash of civilizations but the rubber band ball of transnational tension, a strained, chaotic and overlapping global contestation. At stake is the understanding of what a civil society should be.

Open access

Ecolaw Now!

Toward a Generative Understanding of Legal Culture, from Law-as-Pillar to Law-as-Tree

Luigi Russi

A Review of Fritjof Capra and Ugo Mattei, The Ecology of Law: Toward a Legal System in Tune with Nature and Community, Oakland, CA, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2015, ISBN: 978-1- 62-656206-6, 216 pages.

Open access

Humanosphere Potentiality Index

Appraising Existing Indicators from a Long-term Perspective

Takahiro Sato, Mario Ivan López, Taizo Wada, Shiro Sato, Makoto Nishi, and Kazuo Watanabe

Abstract

This research presents the Humanosphere Potentiality Index (HPI), developed to address current global potentiality from a long-term perspective. The HPI presents a different way to envision the current condition of the world, one that is compatible with a strong sustainability paradigm approach and demonstrates the significance of tropical countries for global sustainability. A comparison between HPI and the Human Development Index (HDI) reveals a dominant developmental paradigm that justifies the HDI perspective, and comparisons between HPI and four popular environmental indicators provide insights into how human society should engage with the natural environment. This research argues that the worldview from HPI presents a perspective that asks us to pay more attention not only to development but also to global potentiality from a long-term perspective.