ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE AND THE DEPARTMENT OF AFRICA, OCEANIA AND THE AMERICAS OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM

Anthropology, Weather & Climate Change

(P51)
Weather Knowledge and Community Case Studies
Location Senate House - Athlone Room
Date and Start Time 27 May, 2016 at 16:00
Sessions 1

Convenor

  • Jennifer Speirs (University of Edinburgh) email

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Short Abstract

None provided.

Long Abstract

None provided.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Learning from the Locals on Environment Management and Dealing with Disasters: The Case of Talim Island, Philippines

Author: Angelito Nunag (University of the Philippines, Diliman, Extension Program in Pampanga)  email

Short Abstract

This paper probes how the islanders deal with the environment and disasters by utilising their knowledge on rains, winds, and waters vis-a-vis destructive natural forces such as typhoons, super typhoons, floods, and monsoon rains.

Long Abstract

This paper probes how the locals from Talim Island in the Philippines deal with the environment and disasters by utilising their knowledge on rains, winds, and waters. The everyday lives of the islanders have been shaped by their constant interaction or "conversation" with these forces as typhoons, super typhoons, floods, and monsoon rains are a commonplace in the island. Accordingly, the islanders have come up with a unique way of life as evidenced by the construction and composition of their shelters, reinvention of their livelihoods, partition of their community into suitable and unsuitable areas for house construction, etc….

In the light of this, this paper examines the "world" of the locals and highlights their knowledge about the different kinds of winds, waters, and rains, and in turn, how this knowledge shapes their lives. In this regard, this paper investigates how the islanders construct their "world" based on this "conversation". Consequently, it looks into how this worldview or ideology is affected by the weather phenomena. In addition, this paper explores how they use this ideological adaptation to deal with the environment and mitigate disasters and natural hazards.

Weather and its dynamic meanings: Fishers interpretations of weather events in Kihnu Island, Estonia.

Author: Joonas Plaan (Tallinn University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper will use historical records and data from ethnographic fieldwork to explore how weather events in combination with local environmental knowledge affect local livelihood practices, and carry unlike meanings in Kihnu Island, Estonia in different sociopolitical situations.

Long Abstract

By emphasising collective experience, sociopolitical situation, and cultural framing, this paper will demonstrate that weather events carry dynamic meanings, affecting local fishing activities in Kihnu Island, Estonia. Kihnu people's perceptions and local environmental knowledge of weather are framed by sociopolitical circumstances and cultural context with which they ascribe meanings and values to weather events. Those meanings and values are not just descriptive models of weather events but also models for any collective action.

Fishers have a peculiar outlook on the weather, partly because it is woven into their everyday experiences of life on sea. In addition, fisher-weather interactions are characterised by political, economical, historical, and cultural contexts. I shall draw upon fishers personal diaries from period of 1965-1978, meteorological records and data from ethnographic fieldwork in Kihnu Island to discuss the dynamic aspect of understanding weather, and different ways how fishers have responded to weather events. For example, as the sociopolitical situation changed, the dangerous sea in Soviet Era has become a sea of opportunity in modern Estonia. Furthermore, sociopolitical forces, historical and cultural context, and collective weather experiences shape Kihnu community vulnerability and abilities to adapt future weather events.

With this I have two aims. First, I suggest that weather events are not merely natural events but interrelated with political, economical, historical, and cultural contexts. Second, that research on historical material, combined with modern ethnography significantly adds to our knowledge about climate change.

Weather Talk

Author: Jennifer Speirs (University of Edinburgh)  email

Short Abstract

The Outer Hebrides are exposed to frequent changes of weather and severe winds. The frequent talk between strangers and amongst kin about the weather functions not simply as a social and informative means of communication but also as a symbol of a tension between hope and nostalgia.

Long Abstract

The Outer Hebrides are a chain of islands situated off the northwest coast of Scotland with a maritime climate but additionally exposed to severe storms off the Atlantic Ocean. The southern, fertile islands are at risk of coastal erosion through storm surge. This presentation focuses on the northernmost island, Lewis, where there was some erosion of human settlements pre-historically but where the weather challenge now is the wind.

The wind is both ally and enemy in daily life. In the past the sailing boats of the fishermen depended upon it. Nowadays the wind brings significant financial benefits to individuals but especially to groups of villages through the development of community-owned wind turbines. In Siabost bho Dheas the residents frequently check the movement of the turbine blades in order to confirm the wind direction and that the out-of-place construction is earning its keep. However the wind makes it hard to grow trees and food. It seems increasingly to be disrupting travel which impacts kinship and economic activities. When ferries are cancelled, reactions range from resignation to blaming the travel operators for not being as skilled as in the past.

Frequently, views about the state of the current and recent weather and about the forecast are exchanged between strangers and amongst kin for information and to confirm belonging in a challenging environment. Weather-talk also reveals beliefs and nostalgia about the past as in 'we don't have proper seasons any more' and hope that Hebrideans are experienced enough to cope with the future.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.