Race, alterity and affect: Rethinking climate change-induced migration and displacement

Meeting or Conference
Durham University
18-19 Jun 2013
United Kingdom
Durham University

As policy and scholarly debates about climate change and migration gather pace, to date very few interventions have addressed how such debates are shaped by notions of race and alterity. The imperative to address this lacuna is further emphasised by the twinned observations that climate change is expected to amplify the incidence of environmental/natural disasters i.e., landslides, extreme weather events and droughts, and that narratives of disaster very often contain explicit and/or implicit racist sentiment. Such a context suggests that now is a propitious moment to begin a concerted interrogation of these themes. The aim of this workshop is thus to bring debates about climate change and migration broadly defined into dialogue with contemporary critical race theory and postcolonial theory. Recent interventions (Baldwin 2012; Baldwin forthcoming) have suggested that racialisation in the context of debates about climate change and migration unfolds through at least three interrelated topics: naturalisation, the loss of political status, and ambiguity. This work also argues that given its historiographical emphasis, theories of the postcolonial appear to be insufficient for properly theorising the alterity of the climate change migrant, since the discourse on climate change and migration is written almost exclusively in the future-conditional tense. In contrast, others (Farbotko 2010) have very productively embraced theories of the postcolonial to interpret issues of climate change and mobility. Thus one of the aims of this workshop is to consider how critical race theory and theories of the postcolonial might be usefully reinterpreted to address the future-conditionality of climate change and migration discourse. At this stage, they are particularly interested in innovative contributions from post-graduate scholars. Topics that might be addressed in the workshop include but are not limited to:

  • Race and affect

  • Xenophobic and nationalist reactions to environmental disaster

  • Environmental change, ethnicity and internal displacement

  • Critical race theory, climate change and migration/displacement

  • Postcolonial theory, climate change and migration/displacement

  • Ecocritique

  • Climate change and cultural media/arts

  • Environmental change, states of emergency and the suspension of citizenship rights

  • Ontologies of difference and the future-conditional

  • Disaster risk reduction/disaster risk management, climate change and difference

Keynote Speakers

  • David Theo Goldberg (University of California, Irvine)

  • Uma Kothari (Manchester University)

Visit website

How to register

This is an open event.  If you wish to register for this workshop, please notify Ellie Whittles (e.c.whittles@durham.ac.uk) by the registration deadline 3 May.


Climate Change, Environment & Ecosystems, Disaster Risk Management
Drought, Land Slide
United Kingdom
VI Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, Cartagena, Colombia 20-22 June 2018 VI Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, Cartagena, Colombia 20-22 June 2018.
  • What We Do What we do - we coordinate.
  • What We Do What we do - we campaign.
  • What We Do What we do - we advocate.
  • What We Do What we do - we inform.

Learn more about What We Do


See our photos on Flickr Watch our videos on YouTube Follow our Instagram Subscribe to our RSS feed