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Knowing Climate Change, Embodying Climate Praxis: Experiential Knowledge in Southern Appalachia

March 4, 2015 Comments off

253-262We’re all excited that several years of fieldwork through the Coweeta Listening Project (CLP) is starting to yield some publications.  Here is another new paper that is coming out in a special issue of the Annals of the Association of the American Geographers on Imagining Socio-Ecological Transformation.

Rice, J.L., B.J. Burke, N. Heynen (2015) “Knowing Climate Change, Embodying Climate Praxis: Experiential Knowledge in Southern Appalachia.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 105(2): 253-262.

Abstract: Whether used to support or impede action, scientific knowledge is now, more than ever, the primary framework for political discourse on climate change. As a consequence, science has become a hegemonic way of knowing climate change by mainstream climate politics, which not only limits the actors and actions deemed legitimate in climate politics but also silences vulnerable communities and reinforces historical patterns of cultural and political marginalization. To combat this “post-political” condition, we seek to democratize climate knowledge and imagine the possibilities of climate praxis through an engagement with Gramscian political ecology and feminist science studies. This framework emphasizes how antihierarchical and experiential forms of knowledge can work to destabilize technocratic modes of governing. We illustrate the potential of our approach through ethnographic research with people in southern Appalachia whose knowledge of climate change is based in the perceptible effects of weather, landscape change due to exurbanization, and the potential impacts of new migrants they call “climate refugees.” Valuing this knowledge builds more diverse communities of action, resists the extraction of climate change from its complex society–nature entanglements, and reveals the intimate connections between climate justice and distinct cultural lifeways. We argue that only by opening up these new forms of climate praxis, which allow people to take action using the knowledge they already have, can more just socioecological transformations be brought into being.

KeyWords: climate governance, democratization, politics of knowledge, praxis.