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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Theorising Climate Change and Migration: Affect, Politics and the Future Conditional


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