Farms, fish & forests
Social science scholarship on climate change increasingly situates global climate change in the everyday experiences, practices, and knowledges of individuals and communities in local landscapes. Although climate change is a global phenomenon, it is experienced, negotiated, and adapted to at the local scale. In this dissertation, I situate and emplace global climate change in the everyday experiences and practices of people with land- and sea-based livelihoods in Maine. Maine is, in many ways, at the forefront of the climate crisis, and farmers, fishers and foresters—with their ongoing, intimate knowledge of and relations with particular places—are experiencing climate change and making meaning of its impacts. The aim of the dissertation, broadly conceived, is to particularize climate change and locate it in the embodied relations of people and places in Maine. I draw from several bodies of scholarship to locate the study of livelihoods and global climate change in Maine. First, I utilize the work of James O’Connor, Raymond Williams, and contemporary livelihoods scholars to position analysis of climate change impacts within broader historic relations of land and labor. Second, hybrid materialist perspectives, as well as relational perspectives on place, help to understand global climate change as a constellation of interrelated, but distinctly localized manifestations of a translocal process. Methodologically, I employ climate ethnography, which broadens the ethnographic lens to the more-than-human world. I draw from 45 ethnographic interviews, extensive participant-observation, a participant survey, and participant photography to co-investigate the profound ecological shifts farmers, fishers, and foresters are experiencing. I also employ public sociology to communicate data through creative nonfiction, art, and various public events. The dissertation probes how climate meanings are locally constructed and shaped by repeated encounters within multispecies communities in place. In addition, it documents the ways in which livelihood conditions in Maine are entangled with processes of gentrification and shifting economic conditions that, along with climate change, are putting additional pressures on nature-based livelihoods there. The dissertation contributes to an understanding of how climate change is a bundle of processes that cannot be neatly separated as natural or social. It also demonstrates the central role of livelihoods—and their contingent identities—in understanding and adapting to climate change. Ultimately, the dissertation bears witness to precarious land- and sea -based livelihoods, and agitates for greater attention to ways in which people, places, and climate change are irrevocably bound.