Society for Economic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
As an activist I am partner to an informal grassroots network of environmental stewards in Vanuatu, Melanesia. While making their livelihoods largely as subsistence harvesters, these men and women volunteer to tackle local impacts from climate change, biodiversity loss, and natural disasters, as well as threats posed to the region by encroaching economies of scale. This talk will pursue two threads of questioning. The first relates to the thorny process of how these individuals broker between worldviews, that is, how they encounter, translate, integrate, and deploy scientific meanings and methodologies alongside customary practices and meanings. Culture brokering by various names has long been of interest to anthropology, however climate change and the collapse of biological diversity have brought new urgency to the work. The second thread concerns the relationships between myself as an outside activist and the local indigenous stakeholders with whom I work. These relationships find their roots in and routes through colonialism, globalization, and sustainable development agendas. As we target the "real"of climate change, engaging tactics of adaptation, resilience, and sometimes resistance, it's clear to everyone that the causes of climate change are not equally shared by us, nor do we have the same access to resources to confront it. Not unrelated to this tension, as an activist I am often involved in pushing boundaries, for example through advocating for the increased participation of women in decision-making. These, along with other elements of the work, necessitate an ongoing technical process of critical reflection.