Uppsala Forum Guest Lecture: Climate Change, Trauma and the Question of Justice: A Heated Exchange

  • Date: –14:30
  • Location: Ekonomikum B115, or via Zoom: https://uu-se.zoom.us/j/65978778110
  • Lecturer: Tracey Skillington, Lecturer and Director of the BA Sociology in the School of Society, Politics and Ethics, University College Cork, Ireland
  • Organiser: Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES), Department of Social and Economic Geography, and Uppsala Forum
  • Contact person: Johanna Ohlsson
  • Föreläsning

Experiences of environmental degradation provoke a thematization of the body as vulnerable and the surrounding environment as progressively more hostile. Increasingly, we encounter a climate challenged world directly through physical and sensory contact. Under normal conditions, the inhaled and exhaled world remain largely invisible and imperceptible, yet as pollution levels and temperatures rise exponentially, this situation changes and our physical and emotional relationship to the world become strained (Rosa, 2019). Disturbance experiences provoke ‘a fracture’ in taken for granted assumptions about ontological security, yet these conditions have also been shown to trigger critical thinking and an awakening to the dangers of not addressing the unthinkable tragedy of irreversible loss. One important insight drawn is that the enactment of the rights of citizens requires more than a legal endorsement. It also requires that the spaces of social interaction, cultural engagement, identity and wellbeing are protected. In the absence of such protection and accelerating climate change, the conditions enabling democratic life to flourish are placed in jeopardy. In this paper, I examine how citizens’ demands for recognition of what have until now been largely ‘disenfranchised’ and depoliticized forms of ecological grief, trauma and rights denial, draw on recent experiences of wildfires, prolonged drought, severe flooding and more to reassess core questions of justice.

Dr. Tracey Skillington is a lecturer and Director of the BA Sociology in the School of Society, Politics and Ethics, University College Cork, Ireland. She is author of Climate Justice & Human Rights (Palgrave, 2017); Climate Change & Intergenerational Justice (Routledge, 2019) and forthcoming A Critical Theory of Climate Trauma (Routledge). She has also published articles in many peer reviewed journals and guest edited special issue journal volumes in, for instance, the European Journal of Social Theory, Sociology, the International Journal of Human Rights, the Irish Journal of Sociology, Sociology, Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, and Sustainable Development. Currently, she leads UCC as a partner in the EU Horizon 2020-funded project JUSTNORTH.

This lecture is followed by a seminar for PhD students and Postdocs on September 7, more information on that can be found here.