This panel explores how anthropological studies of environmental change not caused by human alterations of global climate, such as forest cover or water body changes, can theoretically and methodologically inform the anthropology of climate change.
The study of climate change is an exciting and important new field in environmental anthropology, but there is a longer tradition of anthropological work on other forms of environmental change - for example forest conversion, desertification, or soil degradation - that can potentially offer it theoretical and methodological insights. This panel invites papers discussing key themes in this literature, such as memory, relations between global and local perceptions of change, the 'translation' of indigenous into scientific knowledge, environmental crisis narratives, disequilibrium ecology, uncertainty and variability and resilience and adaptation, or more methodological challenges such as the problem of scale and the use repeat photography. Together, we will seek to assess the ways in which these different existing approaches, debates, methods and findings may or may not be relevant for anthropological studies of climate change. In so doing, we will also discuss whether there is anything distinctive about the nature, scale and effects of man-made climate change and local and global perceptions and reactions to it that sets it apart from other processes of environmental change and therefore requires different forms anthropological engagement.