Racing climate change in Guyana and Suriname

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Abstract

Research on the overlap between race and vulnerability to the physical and governance-related aspects of climate change is often globally scaled, based on extended temporalities, and colour-coded with non-white populations recognized as being at greater risk of experiencing the adverse effects of climate change. This article shows how de-centring whiteness from its position as automatic, oppositional counterpart to blackness can make space for greater recognition of the role played by the environment in processes of racialization. De-centring whiteness in this way would form a valuable step towards recognizing how race, constructed in part through shifting relations between people and the environment, overlaps with climate vulnerability within multiracial populations. Without discounting the value of global, colour-coded interpretations of race, I point out the limits of their applicability to understandings of how climate change is unfolding Guyana and Suriname, two multiracial Caribbean countries. I argue that in the postcolonial period, relations with the environment take historical constructions of race forward in ways that undergird the impacts of climate change. Even further, I show how the environment has always played a key, underacknowledged role in processes of racialization, complicating colour-coded interpretations of race, whether global or local.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalPolitics
VolumeOnlineFirst
Early online date2 Sept 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Sept 2021

Keywords

  • Anthropocene
  • Climate change
  • Guyana
  • Race
  • Suriname

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