Past Event

Sarah E. Vaughn - Another Skin: Climate Adaptation and Accountability

January 31, 2023
4:15 PM - 6:15 PM
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Online and in-person: Heyman Center (Second Floor Common Room), Columbia University, New York

Event Description

Life in the Anthropocene is structured by racial hierarchies, even as people recognize the obstacles racial thinking poses to surviving climate change. This tension begs the question: How do race and climate change interact with one another, and why does it matter? Sarah E. Vaughn addresses this question by analyzing the ways people talk about race, and in many cases--avoid the subject entirely--in order to make sense of what climate adaptation projects can offer them. It is informed by ethnography, interviews, and archival research she conducted between 2009 and 2019 as the coastal South American nation-state Guyana, embarked on the climate adaptation of its large earthen dam system.

Attending to the intensified but uncertain dynamics of climatic threats, she argues that both engineers and ordinary citizens share a loss of confidence in race as an organizing principle of daily life. Yet because climate adaptation intervenes across spatial-temporal scales, it requires that they address experiences of racialized belonging as much as injustice. To this end, Vaughn presents a case study of Guyana to explore how climate adaptation projects shape process of racialization, while offering a space to imagine alternative modes of accountability and planetary engagement.

Event Speaker

Sarah E. Vaughn, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley

Event Information

Free and open to the public; registration required. For more information, please visit the event webpage or email [email protected]. Please visit the Heyman’s Center website for directions. All in-person attendees must follow Columbia's COVID-19 policies. Visitors will be asked to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

Hosted by the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University. Co-sponsored by the Columbia Climate School, Center for Science and Society, and the Decarbonization, Climate Resilience and Climate Justice Network