Knowledge Puzzles and Paradoxes: How Anthropological Knowledges on Climate Change (Don't) Move
(University of Toronto)
Todd Sanders (University of Toronto)
Paper short abstract:
In recent years, anthropologists have redoubled efforts to produce policy-relevant knowledge on global climate change. This paper explores some of the features of the climate change knowledge ecology that invite, enable and disable particular forms of anthropological knowledge.
Paper long abstract:
In recent years, anthropologists have redoubled efforts to produce policy-relevant knowledge on global climate change. Their efforts dovetail with others from across the human sciences. They are also encouraged by research funders, academies of science, geophysical scientists and governments, who increasingly insist that climate change is a human problem, whose policy solutions demand the human sciences. To engage this grand challenge, everyone must be included. Yet while some anthropological knowledges gain traction and move with relative ease through this vast research-for-policy ecology, many others do not and routinely struggle.
This paper explores some of the features of the climate change knowledge ecology that invite, enable and disable particular forms of anthropological knowledge. In particular, it considers prevailing pretheoretical commitments to what disciplines are, and how their ostensibly distinct knowledges fit together. These commitments are routinely evinced through jigsaw-puzzle metaphors: all disciplines must be included; each must contribute its unique knowledge; disciplinary knowledges, when combined, enable an understanding of 'the whole.' Yet in practice this mode of inclusivity produces paradoxical effects on anthropology and other human sciences. On the one hand, it invites and mobilizes certain anthropologies and their knowledges; on the other, it disinvites and immobilizes others that cannot readily slot into the climate change puzzle currently on offer. The paper ultimately suggests that understanding the (im)mobility of anthropological knowledges on climate change requires sustained anthropological attention to the climate change knowledge ecology in which we work.
Making knowledge mobile: knowledge production and transfer in/to/across/between anthropology's actors, locations, and performances