Posts Tagged ‘Political ecology’

Racial Coastal Formation: Placing Race in the Making of Vulnerability to Sea-Level Rise

December 23, 2017 Comments off

Hardy, R.D., R.A. Milligan and N. Heynen (2017) “Racial Coastal Formation: Placing Race in the Making of Vulnerability to Sea-Level Rise.” Geoforum. 87: 62-72.


The United States’ deeply racialized history currently operates below the surface of contemporary apolitical narratives on vulnerability mitigation and adaptation to sea-level rise. As communities, regulatory agencies, and policy-makers plan for rising seas, it is important to recognize the landscapes of race and deep histories of racism that have shaped the socio-ecological formations of coastal regions. If this history goes unrecognized, what we label colorblind adaptation planning is likely to perpetuate what Rob Nixon calls the “slow violence” of environmental racism, characterized by policies that benefit some populations while abandoning others. By colorblind adaptation planning, we refer to vulnerability mitigation and adaptation planning projects that altogether overlook racial inequality—or worse dismiss its systemic causes and explain away racial inequality by attributing racial disparities to non-racial causes. We contend that responses to sea-level rise must be attuned to racial difference and structures of racial inequality. In this article, we combine the theory of racial formation with the geographical study of environmental justice and point to the ways racial formations are also environmental. We examine vulnerability to sea-level rise through the process of racial coastal formation on Sapelo Island, Georgia, specifically analyzing its deep history, the uneven racial development of land ownership and employment, and barriers to African American participation and inclusion in adaptation planning. Racial coastal formation’s potential makes way for radical transformation in climate change science not only in coastal areas, but other spaces as situated territorial racial formations.

Keywords: Race, Vulnerability, Sea-level rise, Political ecology, Gullah Geechee, Georgia

Global assemblages, resilience, and Earth Stewardship in the Anthropocene in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

September 5, 2013 Comments off

Laura Ogden assembled a motley crew of colleagues including myself, as well as Ulrich Oslender, Paige West, Karim-Aly Kassam and Paul Robbins, and together we just published this essay in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.  The main idea was to open up some of the language ecologists are increasingly using to discuss the Anthropocene.

Ogden, L. N. Heynen, P. West, U. Oslender, P. Robbins (2013). “Global assemblages, resilience, and Earth
Stewardship in the Anthropocene.” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 11: 341–347. [invited: Special issue on Earth Stewardship].

In this paper, we argue that the Anthropocene is an epoch characterized not only by the anthropogenic dominance
of the Earth’s ecosystems but also by new forms of environmental governance and institutions.
Echoing the literature in political ecology, we call these new forms of environmental governance “global
assemblages”. Socioecological changes associated with global assemblages disproportionately impact poorer
nations and communities along the development continuum, or the “Global South”, and others who depend
on natural resources for subsistence. Although global assemblages are powerful mechanisms of socioecological
change, we show how transnational networks of grassroots organizations are able to resist their negative social
and environmental impacts, and thus foster socioecological resilience.