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THREATENING DYSTOPIAS: DEVELOPMENT POLITICS AND THE ANTICIPATION OF CLIMATE CRISIS IN BANGLADESH

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Abstract

In the broadest sense, this is a study of competing imaginations of the future under climate change, and struggles over the power to shape that future. Who gets to imagine what the future will look like? What are the material implications of those imaginations? How do certain imaginations of the future become reality, while others are silenced and foreclosed? How is the power to determine the future exercised? I answer these questions through an exploration of the intersection of development and climate change adaptation in Bangladesh, and the various actors that shape and contest it. Development in Bangladesh is increasingly defined by and through an adaptation regime, a socially and historically specific configuration of power that governs the landscape of possible intervention in the face of climate change. It includes institutions of development, research, media, and science, as well as various state actors both nationally and internationally. This adaptation regime works by de-historicizing and de-politicizing the dynamics of ecological change, legitimizing new interventions by donors, policy makers, researchers, and development agencies. By marshaling significant funding, infrastructure and political capital, the adaptation regime constitutes a new form of governance over the livelihoods seen as viable in the near- and long-term future. The politics of uncertainty over whether, how, and when to adapt also enroll the scientific and research communities in activities of the regime. Strategies for pursuing “viable” futures in the time of climate change range from the promotion of saline shrimp aquaculture in former rice farming communities to plans for resettling the populations of entire geographic regions. In this dissertation, I trace the rise of this regime from its colonial antecedents to the present, investigate the range of actors that have contributed to its emergence, and examine a variety of ways in which its impacts are experienced in communities in coastal Bangladesh. I focus on three communities that have taken different paths regarding shrimp cultivation, and that have variously mobilized against it. Their experiences and struggles challenge the notion that agriculture is no longer viable in their region, and suggest new possibilities for equitable futures in rural Bangladesh and beyond.

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2017-08-30

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Keywords

Development; agrarian change; Sociology; Geography; Political Ecology; Adaptation; Climate change; Bangladesh

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Union Local

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Committee Chair

Wolford, Wendy W.

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Committee Member

Cons, Jason
McMichael, Philip David
Ghosh, Durba

Degree Discipline

Development Sociology

Degree Name

Ph. D., Development Sociology

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document

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dissertation or thesis

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