Masculinity and the culture of rising sea-levels in a mangrove lagoon in Papua New Guinea

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In the wake of rising sea-levels, dialogue about climate change and resettlement took on new urgency among the Murik, a lagoon-dwelling, coastal people in Papua New Guinea. A theoretical question is raised by their discourse: how to conceptualize the relationship among multiple perspectives of climate change that does not pre-empt local voices? Bakhtin’s concept of the chronotope and Lacan’s notion of the symbolic phallus in the time and space of the other are utilized in this analysis. In particular, chronotopes of modernity and global risk contest a chronotope of local masculinity. These concepts, in turn, are challenged by a chronotope of doubt, and the latter seems to be winning the argument, as it were. The four chronotopes, I argue, combine in dialogue to constitute an otherwise ignored view of rising sea-levels, not only in Papua New Guinea but in climate-change discourse, more broadly. Multi-sited ethnography is analyzed in support of this argument.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-22
JournalMaritime Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The costs for two brief research periods (February and September 2008) on which this paper is partly based were paid by two grants from the Wilford Research Fund of the Anthropology Department at the University of Minnesota.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, The Author(s).


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