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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Dr Andrew Baldwin

“My experience at the IAS was a real highlight in my academic career. Having the space to read, write and think unencumbered by my ordinary departmental responsibilities was incredibly freeing. ”

Dr Andrew Baldwin, Durham University

IAS Fellow, Durham University (October - December 2014)


Andrew Baldwin is a Lecturer in Human Geography at Durham University and Co-Director of the Institute for Hazard, Risk and Resilience also at Durham University. He has also held academic posts at the University of Manchester and Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario). His research is primarily concerned with theorising the ways in which the related categories ‘race’ and ‘whiteness’ operate as key terms of reference in environmental political discourse. This work draws inspiration from critical race theory and postcolonial theory as well as from critical theory more broadly.

Dr Baldwin's current research focuses squarely on the interrelationships between climate change and human migration. The aim of this work is to pluralise the rapidly expanding debate on climate change and migration with a view to stretching it beyond a narrow policy focus. In particular, it seeks to understand what the discourses and practices of global environmental change and migration can reveal about what it means to be human in the early twenty-first century. This entails tracing how discourses on global environmental change and migration are giving rise to new subjectivities, differences and political contestations and how these shape contemporary practices of liberal government. To date his principle contribution to these debates has been to elaborate a series of related tropes through which the figure of the climate change migrant is racialised. This work appears in Environment and Planning A, Citizenship Studies, and Geography Compass. In support of this work, Dr Baldwin chairs COST Action IS1101 Climate change and migration (, which is a pan-European network of social scientists researching all aspects of climate change and human migration.

Dr Baldwin's earlier research was concerned with theorising the interrelationships between nature and race with a particular emphasis on forest conservation discourse and practice in Canada. This work appears in Space and Culture, Antipode, The Canadian Geographer and Environment and Planning A. As part of this project, he also co-edited Rethinking the Great White North: race, nature and the historical geographies of whiteness in Canada (UBC Press 2011) with Audrey Kobayashi and Laura Cameron.

While at the IAS Dr Baldwin will examine how the concept of emergence might be used to reinterpret the category ‘race’ specific to debates about climate change and migration. This will entail critically analysing social-ecological systems theory and techniques of urban resilience and disaster risk reduction through the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. He is especially interested to understand how physical scientists conceptualise molecular and cellular emergence in order to better appreciate how the category ‘race’ structures or is immanent to emergent interspecies relations.

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Theorising Climate Change and Human Migration: affect, politics and the future-conditional

26th November 2014, 17:30 to 18:30, Room PG20, Pemberton Building, Palace Green

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.

Listen to this lecture in full.

Details of publications that were progressed or completed whilst holding an IAS Fellowship in 2014/15, with the request to Fellows that they be attributed as such:

Dr Andrew Baldwin Publications

Baldwin, W.A (2017) ‘Resilience and race, or climate change and the uninsurable migrant: towards an anthroporacial reading of ‘race’, Resilience: international policies, practices, discourses, 5(2), pp. 29-143.

Baldwin, W.A (2016) 'Premediation and white affect: climate change and migration in critical perspective', Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 41, pp. 78-90.

IAS Insights Paper


Climate change is more and more being imagined as a problem of migration. Much of this imagining of climate change is predicated on the idea that climate change will proliferate migration around the world, resulting in either a greater number of humanitarian crises and/or wars. This paper argues against this thesis, and instead claims that the contemporary discourse on climate change and migration is a means of governing how mostly ‘Western’ audiences relate to climate change. The claim is that the discourse on climate change and migration is Eurocentric and thus more concerned with recentring Europe as the agent of historical modernity, than with saving the imperilled other of climate change. A set of new concepts is offered that help us better understand the politics of climate change and migration: threshold, social tense, dehumanisation and geographies of potential.

Insights Paper

Vol 10 Article 11