Indigenous Knowledge in Climate Adaptation: Examining the Resettlement of Coastal Communities on the Periphery

Associate Professor Janelle Knox-Hayes


Examining processes of sensemaking in communities coping with land loss, changes in local natural resources, and increased intensity of storm events uncovers the complexities of climate adaptation in coastal communities. Vulnerabilities to climate change are often interwoven into long standing vulnerabilities for communities in relation to economic globalization. This project examines the experience of the Isle de Jean Charles band of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe in Southern Louisiana. The project works across scales, first examining the emergence and divergence of core-periphery relationships that have shaped the economy of Southern Louisiana through extractive industries. The project then assesses the converging threat of climate change and the way in which asymmetries of power have created inequalities and injustices for communities such as Isle de Jean Charles. Finally, the study evaluates asymmetries of access to processes of planning and development and suggests ways these inequities are institutionalized through regulatory practice. The study comments on the significance of cultural history and context in planning and the essentiality of value transfer in successful adaptation and resettlement.

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