Sophie Pascoe (University of Melbourne)
Alexander Cullen (University of Cambridge)
Dr Sophie Pascoe
"It's not like dim dim [white people] theory on climate change": Ontological conflicts over climate change in Suau, Papua New Guinea
Climate change is shaped and understood through assumptions of causality and temporality that are embedded in ways of perceiving and enacting reality. Different assumptions may be privileged or marginalised in attempts to mitigate and govern climate change in ways that may produce ontological conflicts. Based on twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork with communities in Suau, Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea, this presentation explores the ontological conflicts that developed around the Central Suau Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) Pilot Project. Engaging with REDD+ as an entry point to ontological politics, we can examine the intersecting assumptions and related conflicts around climate change and how it is managed. People in Suau draw distinctions between how they understand and experience climate change and the ways climate change has been framed and translated through the REDD+ project. By opening up to the multiplicity of assumptions about how and why climate change is occurring, we can make space for alternative approaches to mitigate and manage climate change, grounded in local ways of being and knowing.
Dr Alexander Cullen (University of Cambridge)
Governing climate across ontological frictions in Timor-Leste
While the necessity of global climate action increases starkly every year, how such knowledge is sensed and mobilised in customary or indigenous landscapes is rarely given adequate attention by NGOs or the state. Resultingly, site-based mitigation or adaptation processes may manifest unintended, (and often impactful), outcomes. Such risks are heightened in post-conflict spaces of institutional uncertainty and epistemological flux. This paper therefore stresses the importance of examining negotiations of ontological difference through which climate governance is refracted between localised customary and formal institutions. This is done by scrutinizing the superficiality of climate discourse at the governance interface in rural south coast Timor-Leste. Here, failures to consider complex customary epistemologies and residual socio-political relations to land has produced conceptual ambivalence and serious local environmental conflict.
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