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Accepted Papers:

Competence, Consonance and Distance: Exploring how a model of cognition and culture could link climate change to risk and vulnerability  


David Scott

Paper Short Abstract:

Cognitive anthropology and cognitive geography could theoretically relate climate change to risk and vulnerability by way of a cognitive-cultural model.

Paper long abstract:

How do humans place climate change within the pile sort of risk, vulnerabilities and inevitabilities within their own respective "lifeworld?" Necessary and sufficient answers to these questions must be theoretically robust, necessary and sufficient. This paper proposes that Anthropology and Geography, two disciplines that at one time were one meta-disciplinary unit, can and perhaps should work together again in answering these questions by linking disaster and climate change within an overall risk ecology. Cognitive Anthropology, a subdiscipline of Sociocultural Anthropology, sits at the strategic juncture of culture and cognition and uses one of the most powerful mixed-methods techniques available, the cognitive-cultural model, to gain powerful insights into shared beliefs, values and understandings. These models are both empirical and ethnographic and relate the individual to a paradigm of shared understandings by way of cultural competence, cultural consonance and cultural distance. Cognitive Geography, a subdiscipline of Sociocultural Geography, on the other hand primarily focuses on map and landscape recognition and wayfinding and never fully embraced cultural-cognitive models as a practice in its engagements. Cognitive Geography does however add the potential to use Euclidian space to measure cultural distance between an individual and a cognitive-cultural model. Because ecological vulnerabilities create disaster risk and climate change is perhaps the biggest environmental and design risk of the Anthropocene, the best way of illuminating how people place climate change within their own respective "lifeworlds" might be found in the theoretical approach of cognitive-cultural models grounded in interdisciplinary engagements.

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Linking Disasters and Climate Change