Fires are burning. Permafrost is thawing. The ocean is rising. Not only is climate change scientifically undeniable, but its effects are being felt by communities worldwide. In times like these, many of us feel helpless and unsure of what to do. Insights from cultural anthropologists can play a crucial role in moving forward the transformations necessary for a sustainable global society. They: interpret how people perceive climate change and express their concerns about it, engage with Indigenous communities and their often-overlooked knowledge systems, and facilitate the dialogue required to move forward and work together towards common solutions. In this timely public lecture, Dr Susan Crate shares her work with communities in north-eastern Siberia, Canada, Mongolia, Peru, Wales, Kiribati and the Chesapeake Bay to highlight how narrative, story, and testimony ignite understanding and motivate action. With that as a foundation, she will also engage some ‘hands-on’ demonstration with attendees by eliciting their experiences of the local effects of climate change.
This event is supported by the Macgeorge Bequest.
Susan A. Crate is a Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University. An environmental and cognitive anthropologist, she has worked with indigenous communities in Siberia since 1988 and with Viliui Sakha communities since 1991. Her recent research has focused on understanding local perceptions and adaptations of Viliui Sakha communities in the face of unprecedented climate change—a research agenda that has expanded to Canada, Peru, Wales, Kiribati, Mongolia and the Chesapeake Bay. She is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles and the monograph Cows, Kin, and Globalization: An Ethnography of Sustainability (AltaMira Press 2006) and the senior editor of Anthropology and Climate Change: From Encounters to Actions (Left Coast Press 2009) and Anthropology and Climate Change: From Actions to Transformations (Routledge 2016). Crate is currently writing an interdisciplinary longitudinal ethnography on climate and culture change in northeast Siberia where she has worked with the same communities for 30 years. Her most recent work focuses on the use of narratives and stories, embracing various ways of knowing, to communicate for effectively and demand action on climate change. Crate has served as PI for four prestigious National Science Foundation projects and, most recently, as an Urgent Anthropology Fellowship with the Royal Anthropological Institute and the British Museum. She has served on various global change initiatives including as a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Ocean and Cryosphere (published Fall 2019) and a member of the American Anthropology Association’s Task Force on Climate Change.