Published: April 14, 2023
Colloquium Poster with title, time

Lisa Kelley
Assistant Professor of Geography and Environmental Science 
University of Colorado, Denver 

In Person:
GUGG 205
Apr 14, 2023, 3:35 PM - 5:00 PM

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Climate-induced displacement is attracting increasing media, state, and scholarly attention, albeit often in a way that situates migration as either an example of climate adaptation or a failure thereof. Whether depicted as success or failure, both framings invisibilize the pre-existing socio-environmental processes that render such migrations necessary—or that can inhibit them entirely. This talk instead argues for the need to understand migration not as climate displacement, but as one among many facets of cumulative socio-naturaldisplacement. I make this case by drawing on large-scale climate data, remotely sensed imagery, and ethnographic work in eastern Sulawesi, Indonesia to situate recent intensifications in extreme flooding and out-migration events in the historical developments and environmental changes that have long separated rivers from floodplains and people from floodplain cultures. Such histories not only set the stage for anomalous rains to beget ‘climate’ disaster. They have also scoured broader landscapes of social reproduction (Katz 2008) in ways that closely shape peoples’ resulting livelihood responses, whether or not these involve out-migration. The result is a much more contested terrain of climate policies and politics than is often recognized. 


Lisa Kelley is an Assistant Professor of Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Colorado, Denver and affiliate faculty in Geography and Environment at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa. Her work integrates theories and methods from political ecology, critical agrarian studies, and remote sensing to explore socially and spatially uneven processes of agrarian and forest change, often in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Recent research in Indonesia, for instance, examines how large-scale land enclosures, circular migration, and climate changes inform rural livelihood and landscape change. Lisa serves on the advisory board of an open access book series on Critical Physical Geography with Cambridge University, as the Environment-Society section editor for Geography Compass, and as a member of the Pandemic Research for the People’s Agroecology Working Group. She received her PhD in 2017 from UC Berkeley's Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management and a BA in 2004 in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University.

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