In this three part series I examine the impact of whiteness and research fatigue when considering climate change in the Pacific, and some directions from Pacific Studies on how to address it. Over three posts I will introduce the ways in which I have witnessed and been told about manifestations of whiteness in academic research; how lived experiences and perspectives push against academic inquiry and theorisations of resilience; and some tactics from Pacific Studies and Pacific Research Protocols for building reciprocity and exchange in climate change research.Continue reading →
Kiribati, one of the large ocean states most immediately threatened by the effects of climate change, is as remote as it is expansive. Comprising 33 atolls and reef islands, which have a combined landmass of around 313 square miles, Kiribati spreads over 3.5 million square miles uniquely reaching across all four global hemispheres. The population is estimated at around 118, 000 with over 50, 000 people living in the capital South Tarawa alone (around 9, 500 or so people per square mile) – an urban density to rival London or Hong Kong but clustered into small villages and communities rather than channeled upwards into high rises. Sitting at only 2 meters above sea level and with an average width of under 500 meters, the archipelago is defined by its waters – you are quite literally in eye line of both the ocean and the lagoon at almost all times. This is where myself and University of the South Pacific marine conservation student, Krystelle Lavaki, stayed when we went to speak with I-Kiribati climate justice advocates and educators about the impacts of rising sea levels, inundation and coastal erosion. Along with speaking to activists, we planned to listen to and record the marine and coastal environments. Continue reading →
I have just returned from Fiji where I was working with colleague Anja Kanngieser looking at on-the-ground responses to climate change in the region. It has been an amazing experience at the personal level as well as at the academic and professional level. Given the latest announcements about funding from UOW’s Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS) and the Australian government of $10 million that aims to promote the sustainability of the fisheries, I thought it was timely to share some of the experiences of the Pacific with AUSCCER friends. Continue reading →
I am here in Fiji doing fieldwork on community led response to climate change and climate justice. For many of us in Australia, Fiji conjures up images of swaying palm trees, white beaches, romantic sunsets and friendly smiling locals. This is the tourist experience that is marketed successfully by foreign corporations in prime real estate on the north-western coast of the main island of Viti Levu, and offer exclusive resort retreats on the smaller islands close to the mainland. Denarau and Sigatoka on the main island have a large number of high end hotels which focus on cloistering guests, providing goods and services at inflated prices, providing ‘cultural’ displays and privately-operated tours. Continue reading →
In an age of sedentarism, obesity epidemics and increasing carbon emissions, public health experts and transport planners advocate for us to walk more for the good of our health and that of the planet. The Heart Foundation of Australia’s campaign currently gracing our television screens, radio and billboards is a prime example of this. As the ads suggest ‘to walk yourself happy, all you need is your feet’. Continue reading →
The use of media, particularly radio, casts a long, popular and expansive legacy across the Pacific; as a means for news reporting, in warning systems, for low fi communication and as a fixture in arts and culture. More recently, attention has been on the possibilities of social media for transmitting stories about climate change, community organizing and resistance. Given this history and connection to broadcasting, and the strong role of storytelling and narrative in Fijian and wider Pasifika cultures, podcasting and audio recording follows a substantial lineage of practices. Podcasting, quite simply, a digital audio recorded file that is placed online, most often made into a series which people can subscribe to, is commonly linked to the move from analogue to digital radio. It is also a cheap and relatively easy means to record and transmit audio even with intermittent or slow Internet, an issue faced across the region. Continue reading →
The major airports in Australia and some overseas countries, such as New Zealand and the USA, are assisted in their passenger mobilities by dedicated teams of volunteers who are generally referred to as airport ambassadors. These volunteer ambassadors play an important role in the daily functioning of major airport terminals by providing assistance and information to the mobile public as they transit through the sophisticated socio-technical systems that comprise the airport terminal.
Volunteer ambassadors at Sydney Airport
Non-commercial interfacing with the travellers and visitors in the public spaces and some secure areas of the airport terminals is conducted by the volunteers under the supervision of each airport’s management. My study is investigating the psychological effects of the airport terminal (treated as a geographical place) on the ability of the volunteers to carry out their roles and upon their daily lives. The incidence of the effect of ‘place’ on the volunteers is being investigated as is the impact of it on the operation of a major airport terminal. In doing so, in my thesis I will also debate the perception of airports being placeless entities in the light of the involvement or otherwise of those working within the terminal space of the airports. Continue reading →
PhD Candidate Razia Sultanareflects on her fieldwork and conference trips made possible by being awarded UOW’s Global Challenges Travel Scholarship.
It is really hard to conduct research with a small HDR fund when your fieldwork is overseas! The Global Challenges Travel Scholarship opened up a window of opportunity for me to back up my PhD field travel costs and present my research findings within an international arena. I am really fortunate to have that kind of opportunity!
Put broadly, my higher degree research addresses one of the pressing global challenges of today-that is, climate change. My field site is in Bangladesh which is one the most vulnerable countries to global climate change and faces various natural catastrophes almost every year. In particular, the issue of climate change has been complex for Dhaka– the capital city- due to frequent rural-urban migration, rapid increase of informal settlement and lack of knowledge about different mechanisms of coping and adaptive capacity of socio-economically disadvantaged. Continue reading →
This is the first blog post in a series dedicated to documenting fieldwork I am undertaking across Fiji and Micronesia in 2018. The blog posts will deal with a range of themes, outlining the project, the importance of anti-racist climate justice work and the ethics of undertaking such work as a white settler academic, using oral testimony, field-recordings and data sonifications for climate witnessing, listening to non-human environments as political geographical practice, how climate justice groups elevate and centre Indigenous experience and knowledge, and how to bring together arts and sciences to more broadly communicate experiences of climate change.
Global Climate March Suva, 2015. Image credit tomvierus.com
Across the Pacific, climate justice organisations have been campaigning for increased awareness and intervention into global environmental change, which sees catastrophic events, such as high intensity cyclones, drought, flooding and ocean inundation already occurring to impact the lives of small-island developing nations. While an international audience might be familiar with the high profile public platforms for this campaigning, such as the yearly United Nations Climate Change conferences, most of the work being done by organisations is on the ground, often invisible, working to build community relations and regional networks, to forge connections and to collaborate on strategies for negotiation between government decrees and community desires.
I have recently moved to Suva, Fiji to amplify the work of community–led environmental groups at the frontlines of climate change. Over the next year I will be travelling across Fiji and Micronesia on invitation to spend time with those engaged in climate justice, particularly women and LGBTQIA people who are most affected by environmental inequality, framing the challenges that they see increasingly intensifying in their region as directly correspondent to larger political and ethical positions, which value capital, resource extraction and infrastructure over human and non-human lives.
Last week AUSCCER postgrads and staff left the confines of our offices, took our shoes off and spent two days in the sunshine, wind and waves at North Wollongong beach and Surf life Saving Club. Amongst the joys of sandy feet, whale sightings and delicious cake, the purpose of our outing was a HDR Retreat. The HDR Retreat provides an opportunity for students and staff to reconnect (or get to know each other a bit better), share our research interests, learn some new skills and importantly, take some time to practice some self-care.