To support the dialogue between science and society, as well as researchers across different disciplines, IRI THESys holds both external and internal events. This includes lecture series, summer universities and panel discussions open to the public, and participative workshops, colloquiums and activities for IRI THESys. Browse through our past and upcoming events to find out more.
THESys Talk by Prof. Ben Orlove
The End in Sight: Facing Glacier Retreat in Three Mountain Communities
Thursday, 07 December 2023, 15.00-16.30
Hybrid: IRI THESys, Rudower Chaussee 12B, room 3.25, and online
This talk is an overview of a book project. It addresses the deep and enduring gap between the global frameworks of adaptation and mitigation, centered on expert scientific knowledge and top-down programs at national and international levels, and the large body of community-based actions, drawing on Indigenous and local knowledge and governance.
This book approaches this gap through a sustained comparison of three cases, based on long-term field work, and through the extensive dialogues between anthropology, science/policy frameworks, and Indigenous and local ways of knowing. The three cases are all mountain valleys (in the Peruvian Andes, in the Sued in the Italian Alps and in Washington State in the US) where communities are addressing glacier retreat, an environmental change that can be closely linked to climate change. They draw on their specific understandings of their own history, rather than the global science/policy framework of climate change, to guide their actions, which are significant undertakings--and though they accept external funding when it is available, they view government agencies as hindrances which interfere with their own plans rather than as supports.
The cases complement each other in interesting ways, in part by addressing different locally-relevant sectors (irrigation, hydropower and tourism) and in part by showing underlying similarities of community organization and participation and of local and Indigenous engagements with the natural world. Their responses reveal the gap between community-based action and the global frameworks of climate change adaptation, organized through technoscientific management and top-down policies. The book traces the implications of these cases for actions to address the climate crisis, showing the need to shift to a more inclusive set of approaches, and links these implications to wider issues of justice and democracy.
Ben Orlove is Professor of International and Public Affairs & Co-Director of the interdisciplinary graduate program Climate and Society at Columbia Climate School. https://people.climate.columbia.edu/users/profile/ben-orlove
The talk will be moderated by Ignacio Farías, Professor of Urban Anthropology at the Institute of European Ethnology (HU Berlin) and member of IRI THESys.