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Social Science and Public Policy

Local Resistance to Climate Change Adaptation: Hindrance or Opportunity?

February 9, 2024 at 3:00pm4:30pm

Eggers Hall, 032

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Geography and the Environment Colloquium Series: “Local Resistance to Climate Change Adaptation: Hindrance or Opportunity?”

Michael Mikulewicz, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Studies, SUNY- ESF.

Over the years, hundreds of climate change adaptation projects have been implemented globally. While there has been substantial scholarship on the extent and nature of adaptation efforts, fewer studies have examined why and how adaptation projects are being resisted. Meanwhile, analysis of resistance to adaptation offers critical insights to scholars and practitioners by recognizing the contentious nature of adaptation pathways and highlighting alternative visions for adaptation.

In this talk, I will present some of the findings of a systematic review of the literature on the topic of resistance to climate change adaptation, including the motivations of and strategies employed by resisters, resistance outcomes, the role of the state, and analytical implications for adaptation research. I will also discuss a case study of a small village in São Tomé and Príncipe, which refused to participate in an adaptation project implemented by the national government and the United Nations Development Program.

By following a Rancierian understanding of post-political, I analyze local resistance as a ‘political interruption’ of the otherwise post-political adaptation configuration in the country, and discuss the factors that arguably led to local resistance, including the residents’ disillusion with what I term Big Development and their political subjectivation through a local grassroots initiative. 

This event was first published on January 17, 2024 and last updated on February 2, 2024.

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