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Imagining the Ordinary in Participatory Climate Adaptation

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  • 1 Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California
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Abstract

This article examines the ways Red Cross training in vulnerability capacity assessment (VCA) structures people’s understandings of the ordinary. This examination is situated within the context of Georgetown, Guyana, after disastrous flooding in 2005 led the Red Cross to deploy VCAs as a method for participatory climate adaptation. The article focuses on the circulation of narratives about the ordinary, which are used by VCA trainees to cultivate ethical responses to flood hazards and the use of water management equipment. It is argued that participatory climate adaptation can be understood as not simply a mode of governance, but rather as a model for reimagining the ordinary. While other scholarship on participatory climate adaptation addresses how daily life is informed by the political and ideological dynamics of such projects, this article focuses on the ordinary from the view of “mobile” climate adaptation technologies. From this perspective, VCA trainees take action but often times rely on sheer intuition to create knowledge practices in an attempt to navigate crisis in the everyday. In turn, they learn that while the VCA may nourish alternative forms of expertise, it is no easy or fool-proof solution for climate adaptation.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Sarah E. Vaughn, sev83@berkeley.edu

This article is included in the Ways of Knowing special collection.

Abstract

This article examines the ways Red Cross training in vulnerability capacity assessment (VCA) structures people’s understandings of the ordinary. This examination is situated within the context of Georgetown, Guyana, after disastrous flooding in 2005 led the Red Cross to deploy VCAs as a method for participatory climate adaptation. The article focuses on the circulation of narratives about the ordinary, which are used by VCA trainees to cultivate ethical responses to flood hazards and the use of water management equipment. It is argued that participatory climate adaptation can be understood as not simply a mode of governance, but rather as a model for reimagining the ordinary. While other scholarship on participatory climate adaptation addresses how daily life is informed by the political and ideological dynamics of such projects, this article focuses on the ordinary from the view of “mobile” climate adaptation technologies. From this perspective, VCA trainees take action but often times rely on sheer intuition to create knowledge practices in an attempt to navigate crisis in the everyday. In turn, they learn that while the VCA may nourish alternative forms of expertise, it is no easy or fool-proof solution for climate adaptation.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Sarah E. Vaughn, sev83@berkeley.edu

This article is included in the Ways of Knowing special collection.

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