Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2021
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
University of Pennsylvania
Archipelagos of Aftermaths: Survivance, Imperialism and Climate Change in New Orleans, Puerto Rico, and Hawai´i

The ongoing aftermaths of Hurricanes Iniki, Katrina, and Maria, and the increased threat of named storms during the 2020 hurricane season, underscores the urgency of conducting climate change research in vulnerable communities subject to U.S. government policy. My research investigates Afro-Indigenous climate adaptation praxis through the lens of the entangled afterlives of plantation slavery, ongoing Indigenous genocide, and state-sanctioned violence. I ask: What forms of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) have been developed and sustained by Afro-Indigenous people in coastal and island communities, governed by U.S. policy, to prepare for and survive climate-related disasters? How are contemporary survivance tactics informed by past practices, epistemologies and ontologies of Black and Indigenous peoples? How are TEKs transmitted intergenerationally? What is the role of TEK in forecasting, creating, and archiving Black and Indigenous futures in the United States? To answer these questions, I propose a multi-sited study of hurricane survival practices in three U.S. territories: Bulbancha (New Orleans, Louisiana), Borikén (Puerto Rico), and Hawaiʻi. Drawing from embodied knowledge and autoethnography, oral history with elders, cookbook assemblages, literary and mythical analysis, historical archives, and participant-observation, my research aims to archive how individuals work collectively to survive the intersecting disasters of Empire, and to theorize how TEK functions as an infrastructure within frontline communities. By investigating knowledge generated from legacies of political and ecological inequality, and the forms and nodes through which it is disseminated, my research strives to connect originary dispossessions to contemporary ones, in order to more thoroughly address disproportionately distributed climate impacts within the United States.