Accepted paper:

Our house is on fire: studying climate fear


Aet Annist (University of Tartu)

Paper short abstract:

The aim of this paper is to lay the groundworks for studying fear of climate change. Fear being an apparently more psychological than social feature, what realms/dimensions and methods could be used in anthropology, with what results? What might be excluded, what gained?

Paper long abstract:

This presentation is exploring the more general aspects of what needs to be studied when studying fear of climate change or climate affect. For this aim, I am considering the knowledge systems, dispossessive effects and strategies surrounding climate affects through the case of Extinction Rebellion. At this stage, the data for this comes primarily from the web-based communities, from which the research targeting fear at the centre of these processes can move outwards. Within this, studying knolwedge systems appears easy, but what are the potential issues here? Gaining access to the data on structural positions of those affected is a challenge that web-based research struggles to respond to - on the other hand, traditional fieldwork with protest groups throws other challenges at the researcher. Secondly, how do institutional response to climate change impact on both the fearful individuals, on fear in general, as well as on solutions from the protest groups (but equally on other groups for whom climate change is at the centre of their being). Thirdly, can we study dispossession as a feature of the future? Are there groups who can be considered of perceive themselves as dispossessed of the future? Finally, this paper will consider the methods that are needed for this kind of study with a keen eye on the combination of fear, desperation and trouble, and hope, creativity, and the friction - friction to fight fire with fire - that these juxtapositions generate.

panel B16
Future jeopardised: socialities and creations of the fear of climate change