Date and Place: 1.-2. June, 2017, Hamburg University
Geologists and Earth System scientists have argued that the planet has entered a new epoch: the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene names the age in which humanity took control over the planet and pushed the Earth System into a new stage of disequilibrium, with significant effects on global human – and non-human – mobility. The proposed workshop draws on this new perspective on planetary change provided by the Anthropocene debate to further the debate on environmental or climate-induced migration and its policy implications.
The Anthropocene’s implications for the study of environmental migration as well as for international security have so far seldom been considered in academic literature, even though it forces us to re-evaluate and re-think our fundamental ontological and epistemological concepts (Gemenne 2015). As argued by Bruno Latour and others, the advent of the Anthropocene implies the end of “’the bifurcation of nature’ or the final rejection of the separation between Nature and Humanity that has paralyzed science and politics since the dawn of modernism” (Latour 2015).
The described “bifurcation of nature” also characterizes the existing literature on environmentally or climate-induced migration. In the earlier literature on environmental migration, often accused of a naive environmental determinism, nature appeared in the form of disasters and extreme events, which tipped societies into chaos and pushed people out of their homes (Myers, 1991, 1998, 2005; Myers et al. 1995; Brown 2008; Waever, Buzan, Kelstrup, & Lemaitre, 1993). But even though the literature on environmental migration has become much more sophisticated and the environmental determinism of the old days has been replaced by sensitivity for the multi-causality of migratory decisions (Castles 2002, Morrissey 2009), the social and the natural are still artificially divided into a set of variables, just to be recombined and layered in computer models or regression analyses (Selby 2014).
The workshop seeks to fundamentally rethink the prevailing ontological categories of environmental migration research and to work towards an analytical framework which studies processes of human mobility within their specific, hybrid socio-natural contexts. It seeks to initiate a fruitful dialogue between scholars working on climate change and human mobility, on the one hand, and scholars engaging with the Anthropocene concept and its theoretical and normative implications on the other.