Coral, culture, and climate change: 'facts that matter' for the atoll island community of Moch, Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia

Pam, Christine Ruth (2015) Coral, culture, and climate change: 'facts that matter' for the atoll island community of Moch, Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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The discourse of climate change is well accepted by Pacific Islands Nations, and there is a burgeoning of literature, research, media representations and project initiatives which address issues of vulnerability, risk, and adaptation. In this thesis, I examine an engagement with climate change among people of the small low-lying outer island community of Moch, in Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia. Rather than pursue a more conventional research approach driven by the 'effects of climate change', I examine the ways in which climate change is affected by the Mochese community; how the 'facts' of climate change are made meaningful and given force in a quest to 'make the island powerful and stay alive'.

This thesis provides an ethnographic analysis of 'climate change', as the people of Moch re-evaluate their knowledge and begin to articulate a relationship between their experience of unusual environmental changes and the global discourse of climate change. My analysis takes place in the context of unprecedented high tide and wave events experienced on Moch prior to and during my fieldwork, and the resultant sense of uncertainty as people struggle to find a 'local' explanation and simultaneously grapple with a new story; that the globe is warming, the ice is melting, and the seas are rising. As local experiences become entwined with this story, my attention is drawn to new meanings attributed to the ongoing seasonal practice of building seawalls from coral to protect the island from an encroaching sea. On Moch, in the context of new climate change realities, these seawalls are now being re-conceptualised as a climate change project; as a symbol for the hopes and dreams of a secure future for people living on the island, and as a site of agency for the Mochese community to assert their presence and leadership in a world of climate change. Throughout this thesis I argue the actions of the Moch community to engage with climate change present a 'new conversational opportunity' to further realise climate change as both scientifically factual and socially meaningful.

Item ID: 41266
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: atoll islands; Chuuk; climate change; coral reefs and islands; cultural anthropology; ethnographic; ethnosociology; Federated States of Micronesia; global warming; island people; local knowledge; Micronesia; Moch; risk and uncertainty; Satawan Atoll; sea levels; sea walls; seasonal; tidal surges; tidal swells; Truk Lagoon; waves;
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Publications arising from this thesis are available from the Related URLs field. The publications are:

Pam, Christine, and Henry, Rosita (2012) Risky places: climate change discourse and the transformation of place on Moch (Federated States of Micronesia). Shima, 6 (1). pp. 30-47.

Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2015 01:57
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960399 Climate and Climate Change not elsewhere classified @ 33%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society @ 34%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 33%
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