Research that contributed to this article was supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Dr. Alun Hughes; Oxford University; All Souls College, Oxford; St. Hugh’s College, Oxford; Jesus College, Oxford; and the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oxford.
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The work of media studies scholar Julie Doyle provides an interesting counterpoint. Doyle shares with critical anthropologists a post-Enlightenment outlook and theoretical toolkit, yet departs from most anthropologists by arguing for a kind of climate change invisibilism and against the visibilism of climate change communicators such as Greenpeace (Doyle 2007, 2009, 2011). Inspired by a critical visual studies literature that repudiates Western and scientific visualism (see Escobar 1999, p. 6), Doyle overlooks the liberation and decentering that may also result from visuality. Drawing on the same literature, geographer Carol Farbotko characterizes the Tuvaluan case as an unalloyed example of visualism as hegemonic oppression, the “ecocolonial gaze” (Farbotko 2010a, p. 58) turned onto a “sinking island nation.” Neglected in this assessment is the way in which this “mythology of visual graspability” (Farbotko 2010a, p. 55) is invoked by Tuvaluans themselves to assert their right to speak about climate change and to resist the scientific skepticism that challenges their claim to vulnerability (see Connell 2003).
Traditional ecological knowledge.