Project member Rebecca Hofmann was interviewed by the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. She was giving inside into her research on the Island State of Chuuk, Micronesia, and answering questions on why a changing climate can leave cultural scars. A summary of the interview can be found here.
Bringing together the papers of last year’s conference on Environmental Change and Migration in Historic Perspectives, this special issue offers a broad scope of examples that illustrate the nexus of environmental changes and movement patterns in its interrelations and interdependencies.
Luebken, Uwe (ed.), “Environmental Change and Migration in Historical Perspective”, Special Issue of Global Environment, Nr. 9/10, 2012.
PD Dr. Uwe Lübken was chairing a panel at the Annual Conference of the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH) taking place in Toronto from April 3-6. The panel on “Natural Disasters and Migration: Explorations into a new Field of Research” focused on the relationship between extreme natural events and the various forms of (forced) mobility and migration they can create. Thereby, Rebecca Hofmann of the Climates of Migration project presented results from her extensive field work in Chuuk, Micronesia, and provided a closer look at the complexities of disaster migration from both a local Micronesian and a colonial point of view. The two other case studies presented looked at “Post-Flood Settlement and Relocation in St. Petersburg, Russia, 1824-1862″ and “Post-Disaster Displacements and Migration: the 1908 Messina Earthquake and the 1968 Belice Earthquake”.
Project director Uwe Lübken talks about the ’climate refugee’ debate and explains how the Climates of Migration project analyses environmentally induced population movements using a historical approach, exploring links between environment, society and forced migration. Lübken elaborates on several case studies of the Climates of Migration team, such as population history in the Chesapeake Bay area and the Ohio River flood of 1937. To read the article, see: Flooding and Fleeying – Math or visit the LMU news website.
In November, 2012, scholars from around the world gathered at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich for the Conference Shrinking, Sinking, Resurfacing: Small Islands and Natural Hazards in Historical and Current Perspectives.
The conference was the second of the three international conferences organized by the project “Climates of Migration”. Seventeen presentations highlighted the complexity of the natural hazards that are challenging small island communities and atolls. Case studies from several Pacific Islands, North America, Europe, and Asia discussed the various means by which islanders are successfully dealing with natural hazards, despite being categorized as “vulnerable.” Hosted by the project members Rebecca Hofmann and PD Dr. Uwe Lübken, the conference successfully integrated various disciplines while keeping a historical component in all presentations. The conference report can be found here.
PD Dr. Uwe Lübken hosted a panel on Climate and Migration at the 4th International Disaster and Risk Management Conference of the Global Risk Forum taking place in Davos, Switzerland from 26 to 30th of August.
The panel on “Climate Change, Migration and Displacement” focused on the great challenges that climate change poses to communities and individuals, putting further pressure on already marginal conditions that are influencing people’s decision to move. The panel was accompanied by a plenary session on the interconnections between “Disasters, Environment and Migration” in which Lübken and Dr. Franz Mauelshagen presented.
Photo credits: Nikos Kapelis
This August, staff member Steven Engler published his first paper, “Developing a historically based Famine Vulnerability Analysis Model (FVAM) – an interdisciplinary approach.” With this paper Engler seeks to enhance the methodological and empirical basis of famine data analysis.
The Famine Vulnerability Analysis Model is a new, holistic model of famine analysis based on the understanding of vulnerability. By looking at the primary famines of the Little Ice Age, the model helps to answer questions on what drives famines, on the direct impacts they have on affected groups or societies, and on how societies cope and adapt to famines. Using this modern vulnerability concept to analyze historical famines from the fourteenth to the twenty-first century reveals the societal experience of the past. This can help us understand regions at risk of famine today and so foster learning processes. Find his paper here.
Workshop “Small Islands and Natural Hazards”
On 22-24 November, the Rachel Carson Center will be hosting the workshop on Shrinking, Sinking, Resurfacing: Small Islands and Natural Hazards in Historical and Current Perspectives, aiming to look at the complex problem that natural hazards have posed -and still pose- on small islands. The Climates of Migration team has released a Call for Papers covering a range of interconnected historical topics, as well as current topics with a strong historical component and will accept proposals until May 15th.
Project director Franz Mauelshagen returned in December 2011 from a three month visit to Washington, DC (USA) where he conducted research at the National Archives and the beautiful Library of Congress.
Steven Engler left for Ireland at the beginning of this month to find details on the 1728-1729 and 1740-1741 famines. He had a good start; on his first full day of work he found himself waiting in front of a closed door of the National Library in Dublin at 9:15 am, while staff members prepared to opening. Two minutes before opening a staff member came over and asked him if he was a researcher. After Steven confirmed, he replied: “Oh, you have to be German, you are the only ones who arrive before the library actually opens!” Steven’s over-punctuality (or German “Pünktlichkeit”) proved fruitful; he found a lot of useful material in the National Library, Trinity College, the National Archives and Marsh Library. He has now moved on to Belfast to continue his archival research.
In Mexico city Lysann Schneider is going through the Spanish references in the Archivo General de la Nación. Since 1980, the national archives have been housed in the Palacio de Lecumberri, a former prison. An inspiring atmosphere for discovering proof of environmentally induced migration in the Mexican colonial period.On the Micronesian island Guam, anthropologist Rebecca Hofmann was buried in books and documents in the Micronesian Research Area Center (MARC) and the main library. Visa problems forced her to stay at the main island, and to postpone her departure to the island Chuuk, where she will perform fieldwork in certain villages. Soon she will start her interviews with locals on their perceptions of climate change.
The report of the conference Environmental Change and Migration in Historical Perspective, that took place in Munich from August 4-6, is available. Click here to download the report.
Scholars from around the world gathered at the Internationales Begegnungszentrum in Munich for a two-day conference to discuss the intersections between environmental change and migration from a historical perspective. Hosts and project leaders Uwe Lübken (RCC) and Franz Mauelshagen (KWI) emphasized that an increase of attention to climate change and migration has contributed to a growing body of literature. There is, however, a knowledge deficit in the empirical field, particularly noticeable in historical scholarship. The Climates of Migration team therefore organized a conference and invited multi-disciplinary paper proposals on the historical intersections between environmental change and migration.
Climate migration is often framed as a security issue in Western countries. Yet the notion that millions of “eco-refugees” will be fleeing the Global South for the – literally - safer shores of the developed countries probably tells us more about Western climatic paranoia than about the real problems involved. As recent literature on the topic has clearly shown, the issue is much more complex. Migration can be both a short-term and a long-term strategy to cope with environmental change. The distances migrants can cover span thousands of miles, or perhaps just a few hundred feet to relatives on higher and drier land. In some cases, if victims of environmental change lack the resources necessary to leave, migration may not even be an option. In other cases, can be forced to leave a hazardous area, or migrate more or less voluntarily. The evacuation of a certain region can be administered by the state in one case and can be spontaneous and unplanned in another. Finally, as far as causation is concerned, “environmental migration” is, of course, entangled into a web of many other factors, such as economic, political and ethnical factors. The conference brought scholars together that outlined the great diversity of migration patterns and took a first step in broadening the discussion from a historical perspective.
Photography by Suzanne Bruins