Anthropological futures for the study of cultural resilience of ‘Western’ societies in the face of climate change

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Megan Paranich

Abstract

Climate change, as a scientifically defined global phenomenon, threatens the cultural resiliency of societies the world over. Anthropology has accrued a rich body of ethnographic research that has illuminated the potential of cultural resiliency for indigenous and non-Western societies. This information is vital for understanding the political, social, and economic movement of these societies. However, the same research focus and academic rigor has not been applied to non-indigenous, Western societies. These societies have been examined for economic and ecological resilience, but there is a detrimental vacuum of ethnographic understanding. Research relevant to climate change is restricted to etic, survey analysis. This research is invaluable but cannot resolve deeper “why” questions regarding political, social, and economic movements in the West. Furthermore, the survey data from within Canada is severely limited, making any analysis of non-indigenous Canadian society vague and riddled with caveats. This paper discusses the academic neglect regarding the cultural resiliency of non-indigenous, Western societies. From existing literature, the author constructs a research framework for Alberta, Canada—the province placed at the crux of the national climate change debate. Anthropological institutions must ask themselves why this demographic is excluded from the same critical analysis applied to indigenous and non-Western societies and move to correct this discrepancy.

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