This research project is concerned with the urgent need to find climate-adaptive ways of coping with the intensifying wildfire crisis, not only materially, but also culturally. Since the affective and sensuous politics of perception during environmental hazards are little understood, this research examines the lived experiences of wildfires and the ways these are shaped by – and constituent in the shaping of public discourses on risk perception, catastrophe management, and global warming.
Through comparative sensory-ethnographic research into the north-eastern part of Germany, where the risk of fires is steadily increasing, as well as into one of the world’s regions which is most shocked by wild-fires, the Bay Area in California, this research will, first and foremost, shed light on the role of the senses during environmental hazards.
The goal of this project is not only to advance knowledge of the distinctive politics of perception but also to turn the results into a set of propositions for future hazard mitigation and management processes. Furthermore, this dissertation will advance research on affective atmospheres and the need to understand how particular politics of emotion and storytelling influence how global warming, hazard events, and related institutional regulation policies are collectively experienced and dealt with. Additionally, through the initiation of collaborative ‘storytelling’ workshops, this project is guided by the hope to help affected people as well as the non-scientific public to cope with environmentally induced stress and to find alternative ways of perceiving and understanding climate change.