seminar series

Social Life of Climate Change

Seminar Series

These research seminars are interdisciplinary discussions around contemporary debates in the humanistic social sciences of climate change and the environment. Events take multiple formats, including standard seminar format as well as more engaged discussions of relevant readings and works in progress.

The seminars are open to all. If you would like access to any of the upcoming seminars please email geog.comms@lse.ac.uk.

The series is co-sponsored by the Department of Geography and Environment, the Department of Sociology and the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

It is organised by Dr Kasia Paprocki (k.paprocki@lse.ac.uk) and Dr Austin Zeiderman (a.zeiderman@lse.ac.uk) of the Department of Geography and Environment and Dr Rebecca Elliott (r.elliott1@lse.ac.uk) of the Department of Sociology.

Please contact Dr Kasia Paprocki with any questions. Updates can be found on Twitter.

Michaelmas Term 2022

Elizabeth Chatterjee, Assistant Professor of Environmental History, University of Chicago
24 October 2022, 4-5:15pm (zoom)
Late Acceleration: The Early 1970s Climate Shock and Carbon Autocracy in India

One year before the famous Arab oil embargo of 1973, the global South was struck by a very different kind of energy crisis. A series of interlocking climate shocks ravaged agricultural heartlands around the planet, precipitating famines and electricity shortages just as oil prices began to spike.

This early 1970s polycrisis briefly unlocked a radically new horizon of energetic possibilities that played out differently across the globe. Especially hard hit were poor oil-importing nations, still largely overlooked in the decade’s burgeoning historiography. In India, the largest of such nations, the combined climate-food-energy crisis brought a twinned set of fateful changes. By June 1975 Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had resorted to imposing a constitutional dictatorship – the Emergency – for the first and only time in independent India’s existence, one amongst a series of coups and authoritarian takeovers that swept the postcolonial South.

Less noticed was a second transformation with planetary ramifications. Rising popular expectations collided with the energy crisis to impel a state-led embrace of coal, despite elite reservations about the environmental damage that would follow. Analyzing these dynamics is crucial to understand India’s rapidly rising carbon emissions, and offers evidence on the complex and troubling societal consequences of climate shocks.

Alejandro Camargo, Assistant Professor, Universidad del Norte (Colombia)
7 November 2022, 4-5:15pm (zoom)
Sedimented stories: Fluvial forces and natural archives in an unstable world

Sediments are materials that tell stories about the past. For climatologists, paleoecologists and archaeologists, sediments are natural archives that preserve particles of organic and inorganic matter accumulated over time, whose study allows us to understand the climate, environmental transformations and human occupations of bygone eras. For historians and other social scientists, sediments are a metaphor for understanding the shaping and accumulation of human experience in historical time. But what kind of contemporary human experiences are woven around sediment not as a metaphor but as a material that circulates and accumulates in the landscape and quotidian spaces? What does sediment tell about the future of those subjects whose lives are deeply intertwined with the flux and accumulation of this element?

For many people who inhabit rivers, streams and swamps in the Colombian Caribbean, sediment is part of their daily lives and, therefore, it shapes their memories and visions of the future in the midst of disaster, conflict, and inequality. The sediments remind them of stories of the life and death of rivers and swamps, as well as the prosperity and decay of rural life. For these people, the force of rivers is the engine that animates sediment. Thus, fluctuations in fluvial forces can allow life, but they can also produce disasters and agrarian conflicts through the erosion and accretion of sediment. Although in the Anthropocene humans are seen as a dominant planetary geological force, for these Caribbean inhabitants fluvial forces are stronger, surpass human control, and bring about ruin, exhaustion and desolation to their lives.Despite spreading climate adaptation discourses and intervention promising disaster control and ecosystem recovery in this region, fluvial forces seem to unfold rapidly thereby creating uncertainty and risk in the face of climate change.

This presentation explores the social life of river forces and natural archives to understand how sediment can tell stories about people, and how people tell stories about sediment in an increasingly unstable world.

 

*CANCELLED* Nikhil Anand, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
Durable Derangements: The Making of Mumbai’s Coastal Road

In this paper, I examine the making of Mumbai’s Coastal Road Project. How might we account for the production of a highway in a climate changed city, one that it is situated on made-up land that fills an increasingly restive, rising sea? Thinking with Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement (2016), I draw attention to the interests, aesthetics and technologies with which the road and is made durable. I argue that Mumbai Coastal Road is not made with “rational” plans, designs and studies of urban infrastructure.  It is mobilized by the aesthetics of modernity (Ghertner 2015) and particular “habits of thought” (Benedict 1934) that privilege, valorize and assume the possibility of bourgeois regularity in the city; a deeply felt orientation and mode of intervening in the world that continues to produce the climate crisis, both in Mumbai and beyond.

Past Seminars 

Summer Term 2022

Emma Colven, Assistant Professor of Global Environment, University of Oklahoma
10 May 2022, 2.30pm - 4.00pm
Imagining Urban Futures: Adaptation and the Politics of Possibility in Jakarta

Lent Term 2022 

Hillary Angelo, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of California Santa Cruz
1 February 2022, 4.00pm - 5.30pm
The Greening Imaginary: From Garden Cities to Climate Justice

Jerry Zee, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology and High Meadows Environmental Institute, Princeton University
8 March 2022, 2.30pm - 4pm
Continent in Dust: Experiments in a Chinese Weather System

Jade Sasser, Associate Professor, Gender & Sexuality Studies, University of California, Riverside
22 March 2022, 4.00pm - 5.30pm
Can we Have Reproductive Justice in a Climate Crisis?

Michaelmas Term 2021 

Prof Brett Christophers, Department of Social and Economic Geography, Uppsala University
26 October 2021, 2.00pm - 3.30pm
Taking Renewables to Market: Prospects for the After-Subsidy Energy Transition

Lisa Schipper, Environmental Social Science Research Fellow, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford; Co-Editor-in-Chief, Climate and Development
30 November, 11.00am - 12.30pm
What is climate resilience for all?

Myles Lennon, Dean’s Assistant Professor of Environment and Society & Anthropology, Brown University
16 November, 4.30pm - 6.00pm
Ceasing the Means of Reduction: Toward a New Antiracist Approach to Community Solar Campaigns

 

Summer Term 2021

Dr Jesse M. Keenan, Tulane University School of Architecture
4 May 2021, 2-3:30pm
The (Applied) Epistemology of Resilience and Adaptation

Lent Term 2021

Dr Hannah Knox, Department of Anthropology, UCL
Tuesday 26 January, 1-2:30pm
Encountering Climate in Models and Materials

 
Dr Amelia Moore, Department of Marine Affairs, University of Rhode Island
Tuesday 16 February, 2-3:30pm
At the Island’s Edge: Living and Learning Within Intersectional Ecologies


Dr Debjani Bhattacharyya, Department of History, Drexel University
Tuesday 23 March, 2-3:30pm
Climate Futures’ Past: Insurance, Cyclones and Weather Knowledge in the Indian Ocean World

 

Michaelmas Term 2020

Professor J. Timmons Roberts, Department of Sociology and Institute at Brown for Environment & Society, Brown University 
Tuesday 13 October, 1-2:30pm, Zoom
The New U.S. Climate Battleground: Actors and Coalitions in the States

Professor James R. Elliott, Department of Sociology, Rice University
Tuesday 10 November, 4-5:30pm, Zoom
Damages Done: The Long-Term Impacts of Rising Disaster Costs on Wealth Inequality

Professor Veronica Strang, Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University
Tuesday 1 December, 1-2:30pm, Zoom
Water Beings: From Nature Worship to the Current Environmental Crisis

 

Summer Term 2020

Professor Lyla Mehta, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK; Visiting Professor, Norwegian University of Life Sciences
June 8 (1-2:30pm U.K. time)
The politics of climate change, uncertainty and transformation in marginal environments

 

Lent Term 2020

Professor Andrea Nightingale, Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo
January 27 (1-2:30pm)
Unruly landscapes of environmental change: imagining a future Himalaya

Professor Miriam Greenberg, Department of Sociology, University of California Santa Cruz
17 February 2020 (1-2:30pm)
The Housing/Habitat Project: Tracing Impacts of the Affordability Crisis in the Wildlands of Exurban California

Michaelmas Term 2019

Dr Gökçe Günel, Department of Anthropology, Rice University 
21 October (6-7:30pm) 
Book Launch: Spaceship in the Desert

Professor Paige West, Department of Anthropology, Barnard College and Columbia University 
4 November (1-2:30pm)
A prayer for the world: Climate change, engaged scholarship and writing the future

Dr Daniel Aldana Cohen, Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania
11 November (1-2:30pm)
Follow the Carbon: Housing Movements and Carbon Emissions in the 21st Century City

Dr Andrew Curley, Department of Geography, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
2 December (1-2:30pm)
What is a Resource Curse?: Energy, infrastructure, colonialism, and climate change in Native North America

Summer Term 2019

Dr Nayanika Mathur, Department of School of Anthropology & Museum Ethnography, Oxford
13 May, 1-2:30pm
Crooked Cats: Human-Big Cat Entanglements in the Anthropocene

Lent Term 2019

Dr Jesse Goldstein, Department of Sociology, Virginia Commonwealth University
4 February, 1-2:30pm
From Planetary Improvement to Energy Abolition: Against and beyond the Transparent Energy of Whiteness

Dr Sarah Knuth, Department of Geography, Durham University
4 March, 1-2:30pm
Rentiers of the Green Economy? Placing Rent in Clean Energy Transition

Professor James McCarthy, Graduate School of Geography, Clark University
18 March, 1-2:30pm
Renewing accumulation? Political economies and ecologies of renewable energy

Michaelmas Term 2018

Dr Malini Ranganathan, School of International Service, American University
8 October, 1-2:30pm
From Urban Resilience to Abolitionist Climate Justice in Washington, DC

Professor Elizabeth Shove, Department of Sociology, Lancaster University
12 November, 1-2:30pm
DEMAND: Exploring the dynamics of energy, mobility and demand

Dr Megan Black, Department of International History, LSE
3 December, 1-2:30pm
Divided Legacies of the Landsat Satellite: The Origins of a Climate Science Tool in American Mineral Exploits, 1965-1980

Summer Term 2018

Dr Anne Rademacher, Program in Environmental Studies and Department of Anthropology, New York University
2 May, 4:30-6pm
Building Green: Forging Environmental Futures in Mumbai

Dr Liz Koslov, Comparative Media Studies, MIT
4 June, 4:30-6pm
The Fight for Retreat: Urban Unbuilding in the Era of Climate Change