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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.136

Matter out of place: Human and material displacement in coastal cities


  • Dr. Heather O'LEARY

Primary authors


Three of the top five global risks to social stability relate to climate change and failure to adapt (World Economic Forum 2018). Climate change affects people around the world, but not equally.Climate change amplifies disruptions and displacements in coastal cities. By 2050, 70% of our population is predicted to live in cities, with most of the absolute growth in Asia, where many urbanites already face water crisis and whose cities are among the soonest predicted for climate change destruction (OECD 2014). Climate change risks are not simple natural facts - they intersect with, challenge and reinforce social differences and inequalities. Yet many of the proposed solutions perpetuate such disparities. This paper examines the hegemonic discourse that both naturalizes and disowns the casualties of discriminatory risk mitigation. It links the depictions and lived experiences of socio-material risk under climate change by bringing into closer conversation two key conceptual lenses resulting in an engendered subaltern environmentalism. Specifically, it explores urban flooding discourse through metaphors of pollution as it relates to the incursion of water and people.This violent epistemological framework undergirds discourse about climate change mitigation and dramatically impacts institutional, infrastructural and informational adaptation schemes.Climate change discourse remains a vital site for explicit and covert contestations of authority over our planet, our cities, our rights and our bodies.The analytic is a mechanism for developing the next wave of intersectional environmental justice. It destabilizes monolithic approaches to climate risk mitigation, pointing towards more sustainable futures through world solidarity.