Thinking about (unin)habitability through a regionally grounded perspective: the atolls of Oceania - Carol Farbotko | Cyberseminar on the Habitability concept

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Marion Borderon

Mar 17, 2023, 12:32:49 PMMar 17
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Dear colleagues, hello again!

We continue our overview of the concept of habitability and share the final paper of this seminar - available online and as an attachment to this email - which offers another regional perspective. 

It would have been difficult to think about (unin)habitability without addressing the case study of island areas. The latest IPCC report "Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability" is a good example of this, where the use of the term habitability (cited 60 times in 3068 pages), is mostly associated with small islands. "An overarching concern since AR5 is the reduced habitability of small islands".

I am therefore particularly pleased to share with you Carol Farbotko's (Griffith University) statement on "Thinking about (un)habitability through a regionally grounded perspective: the atolls of Oceania".

This paper invites us to reflect on the consequences of the widely held view that atolls will face inevitable uninhabitability. The statement argues that claims that an entire atoll nation will no longer be habitable due to climate change should not be made lightly, particularly as there is no such certainty in science and that this narrative of ‘inevitable uninhabitability’ fails to include or respect the cosmologies, practices, values, and knowledges of atoll people. Carol’s statement also emphasizes the strong will and desire among governments and citizens alike on atolls to stay put and resist the narrative of ‘inevitable uninhabitability’ and invites us to reflect upon the social and cultural construction of habitability and uninhabitability of atolls in a changing climate. As Carol said on Monday’s webinar, questioning the (unin)habitability of a place is a scientific question but just as much a political question.

It makes me think about a question (or tension?) to the definition of a concept, which in the context of habitability could be: - How can we balance the locally-specific cultural and historical understandings of (unin)habitability with the need for more universal understandings of what makes a place habitable or uninhabitable?

I look forward for a lively discussion!




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