seminar series

Social Life of Climate Change

Seminar Series

These research seminars are interdisciplinary discussions around contemporary debates in the humanistic social sciences of climate change and the environment. 

Events take multiple formats, including standard seminar format as well as more engaged discussions of relevant readings and works in progress.

The seminars are open to all. If you would like access to any of the upcoming seminars please email

If you'd like to join our mailing list, please sign up here.

The series is co-sponsored by the Department of Geography and Environment, the Department of Sociology and the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

It is organised by Dr Kasia Paprocki ( and Dr Austin Zeiderman ( of the Department of Geography and Environment and Dr Rebecca Elliott ( of the Department of Sociology.

Please contact Dr Kasia Paprocki with any questions. Updates can be found on Twitter.

Autumn Term 2023

Dr Yolanda Ariadne Collins, School of International Relations, University of St Andrews 
Thursday 19 October, 3-4.30pm
Room: FAW 9.05 

Forests of Refuge: Decolonizing Environmental Governance in the Amazonian Guiana Shield 

Forests of Refuge questions the effectiveness of market-based policies aimed at governing forests in the interest of mitigating climate change. In this talk about her forthcoming book, Collins will interrogate the implementation of the biggest and most ambitious global plan to incentivize people away from deforesting activities, the United Nations endorsed Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) initiative.

Forests of Refuge explores REDD+ in Guyana and neighbouring Suriname, two highly forested countries in the Guiana Shield with low deforestation rates where conservation efforts would be expected to have a relatively easy path. Yet, REDD+ has been fraught with challenges. The talk will situate these challenges in the inattentiveness of global environmental policies to roughly five hundred years of colonial histories that positioned the forests as places of refuge and resistance. It will advocate that the fruits of these oppressive histories be reckoned with through processes of decolonization.

Forests of Refuge shows that pursuing decolonization in countries shaped almost entirely by the colonial encounter depends on reducing deference to the sovereign state in questions of environmental governance; removing the market from its increasingly central position as arbiter of environmental and social affairs; un-disciplining the racialized subjects of colonial governance, and amplifying those ethics and ways of being in the world that are associated with pre-colonial and non-Eurocentric knowledge traditions.

In developing these arguments, Forests of Refuge contributes to three ongoing discussions: the feasibility of increasingly popular market-based tools for encouraging conservation within the neoliberal conservation literature; processes of racialization within critiques of the Anthropocene; and the possibility of decolonization within the critical development literature.  


Jason Cons, Department of Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin 
Thursday 30 November, 3-4.30pm
Room: FAW 9.04

Amongst Tigers: Sentinel Beasts on a Climate Frontier 

This paper explores the ongoing invention of the Royal Bengal Tiger as a sentinel beast of global climate change in the Bangladesh Sundarbans. It asks how the production of the tiger as climate sentinel shapes a broader network of politics and relations in the contemporary Bengal Delta. As others have pointed out, the Royal Bengal Tiger—the Sundarbans’ most famous resident—has long been a potent figure of global imaginations of imperiled nature. This is doubly true in an era of climate change where tigers and their habitats have become tropical analogs to images such as polar bears on melting icebergs.

Building on classic ethnographic engagements with the Sundarbans tiger, this paper outlines a contemporary tension between visions of a global tiger and its corporeal counterparts. It situates the tiger as not only a charismatic beast making its possible last stand in the imperiled mangroves, but also as inextricably enmeshed in land, human labor, and a broader web of predation. The region is, at least in part, constituted with and through the flesh and figure of the tiger. I frame the making of the tiger as sentinel beast not as a misrecognition but as a creation that shapes conservation, development, and claims on the delta’s future. In doing so, I map how tigers are entwined with the production of space, risk, and agrarian change in Sundarbans. 


Past Seminars 


Achieving Justice when Stopping Oil: OFFSHORE Film Screening and Discussion
Wednesday 8 February 2023, 5pm-6.30pm
Discussants: Dr Gisa Weszkalnys (LSE), Associate Professor of Anthropology | Hazel Falck, Independent Filmmaker | Gabrielle Jeliazkov (Platform London), Just Transition Campaigner | Dr Connor Watt (LSE), Post-Doc Anthropology

Nikhil Anand, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania 
Wednesday 8 March 2023, 2pm-3.30pm
Durable Derangements: The Making of Mumbai’s Coastal Road

Summer Gray, Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies Program, University of California, Santa Barbara 
Monday 13 March 2023, 4pm-5.15pm
Seawall Entanglements: Contested Futures and the Politics of Staying in Place


Elizabeth Chatterjee, Assistant Professor of Environmental History, University of Chicago
24 October 2022, 4-5:15pm
Late Acceleration: The Early 1970s Climate Shock and Carbon Autocracy in India

Alejandro Camargo, Assistant Professor, Universidad del Norte (Colombia)
7 November 2022, 4-5:15pm
Sedimented stories: Fluvial forces and natural archives in an unstable world

Emma Colven, Assistant Professor of Global Environment, University of Oklahoma
10 May 2022, 2.30pm - 4.00pm
Imagining Urban Futures: Adaptation and the Politics of Possibility in Jakarta 

Hillary Angelo, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of California Santa Cruz
1 February 2022, 4.00pm - 5.30pm
The Greening Imaginary: From Garden Cities to Climate Justice

Jerry Zee, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology and High Meadows Environmental Institute, Princeton University
8 March 2022, 2.30pm - 4pm
Continent in Dust: Experiments in a Chinese Weather System

Jade Sasser, Associate Professor, Gender & Sexuality Studies, University of California, Riverside
22 March 2022, 4.00pm - 5.30pm
Can we Have Reproductive Justice in a Climate Crisis?


Prof Brett Christophers, Department of Social and Economic Geography, Uppsala University
26 October 2021, 2.00pm - 3.30pm
Taking Renewables to Market: Prospects for the After-Subsidy Energy Transition

Lisa Schipper, Environmental Social Science Research Fellow, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford; Co-Editor-in-Chief, Climate and Development
30 November, 11.00am - 12.30pm
What is climate resilience for all?

Myles Lennon, Dean’s Assistant Professor of Environment and Society & Anthropology, Brown University
16 November, 4.30pm - 6.00pm
Ceasing the Means of Reduction: Toward a New Antiracist Approach to Community Solar Campaigns

Dr Jesse M. Keenan, Tulane University School of Architecture
4 May 2021, 2-3:30pm
The (Applied) Epistemology of Resilience and Adaptation

Dr Hannah Knox, Department of Anthropology, UCL
Tuesday 26 January, 1-2:30pm
Encountering Climate in Models and Materials

Dr Amelia Moore, Department of Marine Affairs, University of Rhode Island
Tuesday 16 February, 2-3:30pm
At the Island’s Edge: Living and Learning Within Intersectional Ecologies

Dr Debjani Bhattacharyya, Department of History, Drexel University
Tuesday 23 March, 2-3:30pm
Climate Futures’ Past: Insurance, Cyclones and Weather Knowledge in the Indian Ocean World


Professor J. Timmons Roberts, Department of Sociology and Institute at Brown for Environment & Society, Brown University 
Tuesday 13 October, 1-2:30pm, Zoom
The New U.S. Climate Battleground: Actors and Coalitions in the States

Professor James R. Elliott, Department of Sociology, Rice University
Tuesday 10 November, 4-5:30pm, Zoom
Damages Done: The Long-Term Impacts of Rising Disaster Costs on Wealth Inequality

Professor Veronica Strang, Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University
Tuesday 1 December, 1-2:30pm, Zoom
Water Beings: From Nature Worship to the Current Environmental Crisis

Professor Lyla Mehta, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK; Visiting Professor, Norwegian University of Life Sciences
June 8 (1-2:30pm U.K. time)
The politics of climate change, uncertainty and transformation in marginal environments

Professor Andrea Nightingale, Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo
January 27 (1-2:30pm)
Unruly landscapes of environmental change: imagining a future Himalaya

Professor Miriam Greenberg, Department of Sociology, University of California Santa Cruz
17 February 2020 (1-2:30pm)
The Housing/Habitat Project: Tracing Impacts of the Affordability Crisis in the Wildlands of Exurban California


Dr Gökçe Günel, Department of Anthropology, Rice University 
21 October (6-7:30pm) 
Book Launch: Spaceship in the Desert

Professor Paige West, Department of Anthropology, Barnard College and Columbia University 
4 November (1-2:30pm)
A prayer for the world: Climate change, engaged scholarship and writing the future

Dr Daniel Aldana Cohen, Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania
11 November (1-2:30pm)
Follow the Carbon: Housing Movements and Carbon Emissions in the 21st Century City

Dr Andrew Curley, Department of Geography, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
2 December (1-2:30pm)
What is a Resource Curse?: Energy, infrastructure, colonialism, and climate change in Native North America

Dr Nayanika Mathur, Department of School of Anthropology & Museum Ethnography, Oxford
13 May, 1-2:30pm
Crooked Cats: Human-Big Cat Entanglements in the Anthropocene

Dr Jesse Goldstein, Department of Sociology, Virginia Commonwealth University
4 February, 1-2:30pm
From Planetary Improvement to Energy Abolition: Against and beyond the Transparent Energy of Whiteness

Dr Sarah Knuth, Department of Geography, Durham University
4 March, 1-2:30pm
Rentiers of the Green Economy? Placing Rent in Clean Energy Transition

Professor James McCarthy, Graduate School of Geography, Clark University
18 March, 1-2:30pm
Renewing accumulation? Political economies and ecologies of renewable energy


Dr Malini Ranganathan, School of International Service, American University
8 October, 1-2:30pm
From Urban Resilience to Abolitionist Climate Justice in Washington, DC

Professor Elizabeth Shove, Department of Sociology, Lancaster University
12 November, 1-2:30pm
DEMAND: Exploring the dynamics of energy, mobility and demand

Dr Megan Black, Department of International History, LSE
3 December, 1-2:30pm
Divided Legacies of the Landsat Satellite: The Origins of a Climate Science Tool in American Mineral Exploits, 1965-1980

Dr Anne Rademacher, Program in Environmental Studies and Department of Anthropology, New York University
2 May, 4:30-6pm
Building Green: Forging Environmental Futures in Mumbai

Dr Liz Koslov, Comparative Media Studies, MIT
4 June, 4:30-6pm
The Fight for Retreat: Urban Unbuilding in the Era of Climate Change