Speaker: Dr. Alex A. Moulton, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
The record of Atlantic storms in the past two decades has been characterized by several record-breaking hurricanes that have positioned climatic changes as a present issue rather than a concern for the future. How these storms have affected the Caribbean compared to the US mainland has illuminated the uneven nature of vulnerability to changes in the earth’s climate system. However, to the uncareful observer, individual Caribbean islands pictured in the images of disaster that circulate after a hurricane has made landfall might be indiscernible from any of the other islands. Worse yet, discerning between the islands can be perceived as unimportant.
Such views miss the regional scale variabilities in the outcomes of storm activity and can lead to celebration of Caribbean people’s perseverance in the face of repeated devastation. It is therefore crucial to ask what the Caribbean experience, regionally and with regard to individual islands, offers for discussions of resilience in an age of extreme climatic events.
This talk follows critical nature-society scholars in considering the theoretical and practical limits of the notions of ‘ecosystem resilience’ in understanding the human dimensions of climate change. Combining a historicization of global economic and political change centered on the plantations of the Caribbean’s colonial past, the framework of environmental justice, and emerging discussions about reparations, this discussion will consider elements that might help constitute more socio-ecologically just and reparative Caribbean futures.