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School of Geography

Giovanna Gini

Giovanna

PhD student


Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 3363
Room Number: Geography Building, Room 218

Profile

Research interests: Anthropocene, climate change; relocation; human mobility; adaptation; loss and damage.

PhD project: Anthropocene Mobilities: identity as a process between materialities and mobilities.
My thesis explores human mobilities related to anthropogenic climate change. It argues that current framings (i.e.climate refugees and migration as an adaptation strategy) offer limited tools for the understanding of mobilities that are taking place around the world due to climate change. Current narratives frame mobilities as an 'exception' in 'ordinary' life, an 'error' in the system resulting from rapid climate change; thus, human mobility is something to avoid, solve or prevent, unless it better allocates resources from one place to another (such as in migration as adaptation narratives). This idea of migration as an error, which is widespread in the social sciences, makes climate change an 'a-mobile' field characterized by sedentary epistemologies and methodological nationalism. Further, the dominant economic logic of these narratives makes invisible other worldviews and systems that guide the movements of people. Thus, in order to overcome these limitations, this project takes a critical distance from solution-oriented conceptualizations and seeks to develop ways to comprehend the different ways of mobilities in the context of climate change. The research is particularly interested in the mobility of ‘traditional’ populations and communities of Brazil, defined as culturally differentiated groups with their own social, cultural and economic conditions, maintaining specific relations with their ancestral territory and the environment they live in. The thesis argues that these relations with their territory place guide human mobility in the context of climate change. Notably, the increase of changes and modification or the mobility of places/territory are triggering and shaping human mobility. The concept of ‘places’ here is understood not only in physical terms but also in its relational terms as 'knots' (Ingold, 2011:148) where different agents, human and non-human, interact and influence each other. The argument finds a base in the work of Clark and Yusoff (2017), whose “geosocial formations," offers a means to explore how human and non-human forms of mobility are linked. Using this perspective, this research also engages with the so-called 'new mobilities paradigm' to investigate climate mobilities. The 'new mobility paradigm' is a distinctive form of social thought where movement is constitutive of social institutions and social practices. Mobility research examines social life through "different modes of mobilities and their complex combinations" (Sheller and Urry, 2016:11). Mobility encompasses human mobility along with the movement of images, ideas, materials, social meanings of place, and space. Therefore, it provides the tools to explore the co-transformational’ relations between human and non-human agents in the context of anthropogenic climate change.

Furthermore, the lack of critical engagement with the concept of climate change, represented as a problem to be solved by 'modern western society' risks reproducing colonial relations. This is because it easily falls into the idea that traditional populations are immobile and anchored to ancestral places, inflexible and deprived of agency – an approach which undermines their self-determination and self-governance. These narratives overlook the fact that colonial regimes structure the current (im)mobilities of traditional communities. The research proposes conceptualizing climate change through a lens that links the Anthropocene's origin to the conquest and colonization of the Americas. This period also led to the incarceration and containment of Americas' populations.

This thesis seeks to contribute to the creation of relations that are more just and humble towards traditional populations and communities by recognizing their agency - that is guided by distinct worldviews and relations with places - in processes involving human mobility. As a case study, the research engages with the Caiçara community of Nova Enseada, whose relocation in 2017 is related to the process of coastal erosion and rising sea level. The proposed research methodology will merge participatory and decolonial approaches in fulfilling its aims, two of which I will outline here. Firstly,this research aims to contribute to the creation of relations that are fairer towards traditional communities. Secondly, it seeks to incorporate and visibilize marginalised perspectives on human mobility in the context of anthropogenic climate change, arguing that these perspectives of mobility are  fundamental to modes of self-determination and self-governance in the Anthropocene.

Academic background

  • MA European and International Studies, University of Trento, Italy.
  • BA International Studies, University of Trento, Italy.

Supervisors

 

Publications
Blog entry:

  • LIDC Migration Leadership Team. Guest Blog: “Challenging The Hostile Environment Through Welcoming Acts”. Giovanna Gini and Janina Pescinski, 17 June 2019.

Conference papers

  • Conference on “Connecting environmental changes and human mobility as a way to draw new maps of knowledge”, 3–6 March 2019, Ascona, Switzerland. Presented paper: “Climate Mobilities and Cultural Transformation”
  • Conference “Alteridades: Intervención y ecologías del cuidado en mundos cambiantes” Santiago (Chile) 15-17 enero 2020 – Awaiting acceptance. Paper: “Cambiamento Climatico y otras Mobilidades”

Funding

  • Queen Mary University of London Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarship (QMUL-LTDS)

Funding awards

  • 2019 - QMUL Postgraduate Research Fund - £2000

Professional memberships

  • Society of Latin American Studies – Member

Research