October 22, 2016 Jennifer Brown, PhD Candidate, University of Pennsylvania, Department of Anthropology: "Ambiguous Futures and Murky Waters: Climate Change and Risk in Southeast Alaska"

Movement brings stability to coastal communities in southeast Alaska. For generations, Alaska Natives and other settlers have trusted intimate knowledge of the flux of ocean currents and seasons to survive, harvest, and profit from the diversity of ocean resources available just off the shore.  For instance, knowing certain seaweeds are at their best when devilís club starts to bloom can mean the difference between a bountiful harvest and missing the resource entirely.  For many Alaska Native people, conceptions of place and resources, which are inextricably intertwined, often convey vital information about available resources.  Changing global currents, oceanic and economic, have always impacted local knowledge, but rarely to the extent seen in the current era.  In this talk, Ms. Brown described the impact of climate change in southeast Alaska through an examination of a natural event and looked at the ways lay people interpret environmental signs and reconfigure their plans and understandings of place in the face of an ambiguous threat like climate change.
Jennifer Brown is a Ph.D. candidate in cultural anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and a term assistant professor of Alaska Native studies and anthropology at the University of Alaska-Southeast.  She is currently completing her dissertation in southern southeast Alaska.  Her research draws upon methods from anthropology, science & technology studies, environmental studies, and indigenous critical theory to examine local and tribal responses to climate change with a focus on ocean resources and human-animal relationships.

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