'We do not want to leave our land': Pacific ambassadors at the United Nations resist the category of 'climate refugees'

McNamara, Karen Elizabeth and Gibson, Chris (2009) 'We do not want to leave our land': Pacific ambassadors at the United Nations resist the category of 'climate refugees'. Geoforum, 40 3: 475-483. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2009.03.006

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Author McNamara, Karen Elizabeth
Gibson, Chris
Title 'We do not want to leave our land': Pacific ambassadors at the United Nations resist the category of 'climate refugees'
Journal name Geoforum   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0016-7185
Publication date 2009-05
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.geoforum.2009.03.006
Open Access Status
Volume 40
Issue 3
Start page 475
End page 483
Total pages 9
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Pergamon
Language eng
Abstract The issue of the social geographical dimensions of climate change is timely and important. This paper sets out to explore one example of this: how people living in the Pacific who are most at risk of being made landless by climate change are portrayed in policy discourse, and how high-level international representatives of Pacific nations have responded to these portrayals. At the heart of this is contention over the portrayal of Pacific Island peoples as ‘climate refugees’. This paper analyses a number of documents since the 1980s, largely from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that deploy the identity construct of ‘climate refugees’. Fieldwork undertaken at the United Nations in New York in 2004 also enabled seven interviews with national ambassadors representing Pacific small island states. Interviews revealed how Pacific ambassadors have responded to the category of ‘climate refugees’, and positioned themselves in the discursive field surrounding the climate change debate. A poststructuralist framework, drawing on Foucault’s ideas of discourse and subject categories provided a means to critically scrutinise and better understand how people from Pacific countries are imagined in the wider, global geopolitical arena, but crucially, how leaders from these nations also construct themselves in relation to climate change and its associated impacts.
Keyword Ambassadors
Climate change
Small island states
United Nations
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ
Additional Notes Themed Issue: Gramscian Political Ecologies. Themed Issue: Understanding Networks at the Science-Policy Interface.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 48 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 61 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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