Society for Economic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
This study examines millennials’ perceptions of their natural environment via 287 pieces of artwork collected from 147 college students and alumni in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, with a specific focus on how these perceptions reflect climate change thinking and environmental inequality. Each participant produced two pieces of art, one depicting the natural environment in their community pre-Portuguese colonization and one depicting their natural environment 20 years in the future. Using content analysis, the study hypothesizes that (1) millennials depictions of the future contain more pollution, scarcity, and less vegetation (i.e., deforestation, desertification, and biodiversity loss) than those of the past; (2) millennials are more likely to draw the natural environment and traditional rural environmental harmony in the past and a built, modern, and urban environment in the future; and (3) millennials’ depictions of negative climate change are more frequent than depictions of technological innovation and effective environmental management in the future. Our results indicate that perceived negative effects of climate change are present among the sample at a fairly high rate and that some perceived climate change action is also observable although less frequent. These findings suggest that in extreme environments undergoing a changing climate, millennials are aware of the situation and may be poised to act with the appropriate motivations (e.g., effective interventions and economic development).
Keywords: millennials, natural environment, climate change, drawings, Guinea-Bissau