21 Jan Wishful sinking: Disappearing islands, climate refugees and cosmopolitan experimentation
Wishful sinking: Disappearing islands, climate refugees and cosmopolitan experimentation
Asia Pacific Viewpoint
Vol (No), pp
Disappearing islands and climate refugees have become signifiers of the scale and urgency of uneven impacts of climate change. This paper offers a critical account of how sea level rise debates reverberate around Western mythologies of island laboratories. I argue that representations of low-lying Oceania islands as experimental spaces burden these sites with providing proof of a global climate change crisis. The emergence of Tuvalu as a climate change ‘canary’ has inscribed its islands as a location where developed world anxieties about global climate change are articulated. As Tuvalu islands and Tuvaluan bodies become sites to concretize climate science’s statistical abstractions, they can enforce an eco-colonial gaze on Tuvalu and its inhabitants. Expressions of ‘wishful sinking’ create a problematic moral geography in some prominent environmentalist narratives: only after they disappear are the islands useful as an absolute truth of the urgency of climate change, and thus a prompt to save the rest of the planet.
Farbotko, C. (2010). “Wishful sinking: Disappearing islands, climate refugees and cosmopolitan experimentation.” Asia Pacific Viewpoint 51(1): 47-60.