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Accepted Paper:

Aging and the alterlife-course: Atmospheric reading across science, law, and kinship  
Ramah McKay (University of Pennsylvania)

Paper short abstract:

This paper brings ethnographic ‘homework’ with family memories and experiences together with efforts to ‘study up’ among climate modelers and experts. It suggests that thinking atmospherically might open up new ways of reading ethnographically across science, law, and relations of care.

Paper long abstract:

As concerns with climate harm and climate displacement increase in both popular discourse and policy-making spaces, a range of scientific, humanitarian, and legal practices have looked to define, model, understand, and legislate habitable environments. Initial studies emphasized changing environmental forces as they impacted specific people and places, ignoring the relational and social practices, including practices of care, through which habitability is made. Yet, increasingly, expert accounts and models of habitability are grappling not only with how climate forces shape material infrastructures and spaces but with how livelihoods, economies, and possibilities for intergenerational life may be shaped or interrupted by climatic change.

Thinking with Murphy’s concept of alterlife (2017) and related work on political and environmental atmospheres (eg. Ahmann 2023), this paper brings ethnographic ‘homework’ with family memories and experiences together with efforts to ‘study up’ among climate modelers and experts. It suggests that thinking atmospherically might open up – may even require – new ways of reading and working ethnographically across domains of science, the law, and family experiences and relations of care. Reading these ethnographic forms together can generate a disorienting slippage across geographic and temporal distance, but it can also open up new moments for tracing care and climate atmospherically in ways that challenge dominant expert (and sometimes activist) distinctions between Global North and Global South, past and present, ethnographer and subject.

Panel P015
Towards Atmospheric Care: Undoing Environmental Violence, Experimenting With Ecologies Of Support [Colleex Network]
  Session 2