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Durham e-Theses
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'Climate justice' as adaptation of the human

FITZMAURICE, MATILDA,JEAN,TERESA (2022) 'Climate justice' as adaptation of the human. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Grounded in a methodology of discourse analysis, semi-structured interviews and participant-observation, this thesis examines ‘climate justice’ as a discourse articulating with other discourses, deploying certain imaginative geographies, and enfolding fundamental questions of power, race and identity in the ‘international’. In a break with accounts that take a prescriptive or essentialist approach to ‘climate justice’, I argue that Judith Butler’s conception of performativity is a framework allowing a full appreciation of the heterogeneity and contingency of ‘climate justice. My first argument appraises the liberal ‘international’ as a racialised order of governance’. Specifically, it argues that ‘climate justice’ – in context-specific instances - embodies and perpetuates whiteness, understood as an historically and geographically differentiated form of signifying power. From here, I argue that some ‘climate justice’ discourses embodying ‘international climate whiteness’, which I understand as an historically contingent form of power that operates through a cluster of institutional arrangements, discourses and affects that serve the reproduction of a liberal international order. In my second argument, I demonstrate how the ‘most vulnerable’ are positioned as a mobilising device on whose behalf the less-vulnerable are to demand ‘action’ from their political representatives. Moreover, I argue that a primary instrument for the securing of this moral economy is the idea of a ‘new narrative’ of climate change; one that reframes it as a ‘people-centred’ as well as an ‘environmental’ issue. Third and final, I argue that over the past ten years, there has been a shift in international climate policy discourse towards seeing climate change in ‘human’ as opposed to simply ‘environmental’ terms. Further, I go beyond this observation to argue that an analysis of ‘climate justice’ discourse allows us to see how the ‘human’ - and humanism - are in the process of adapting to climate change.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:climate justice, human, adaptation, international relations, qualitative, geography.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2022
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:10 Nov 2022 12:40

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