IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Theorising Climate Change and Human Migration: affect, politics and the future-conditional
Human migration and climate change pose two of the greatest challenges of our time. Migration is fundamental to human life and economy, and yet it elicits increasing antipathy around the world, including in the UK. Meanwhile, climate change is said to threaten the very biophysical conditions that make modern life and economy possible. But, as climate change unfolds, its impacts will invariably intersect with existing practices, regimes and cultures of migration. This lecture examines the recent proliferation of political and cultural concern for migration and climate change from the perspective of critical posthumanism.
In particular, it examines how the relation between climate change and human migration is now increasingly configured in the language of socio-ecological systems theory with a special emphasis on its non-linearity and emergence and with an eye towards fostering human security and greater resilience and adaptive possibilities for human life. The principal argument is that at stake in much contemporary discourse on climate change and migration is a burgeoning politics of the human. On the one hand, the discourse seems to assume a notion of the human taken from the paradigm of human security. This is a notion of the human as an autonomous, rights-bearing agent whose humanity is defined in opposition to Nature. However, on the other hand, the discourse seems to privilege a notion of the human that is irreducibly constituted by and through a set of socio-ecological relations. This lecture examines this tension and proposes that contained within the discourse on climate change and migration is not simply a desire to manage human mobility under changing environmental conditions, but perhaps more profoundly an attempt to redefine what it means to be human.
This lecture is free and open to all.
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