Epistemic Violence and Slow Emergencies in Today’s Climate Justice: A Provocation

Image via Shutterstock, ID: 1510706027.
1 September 2020
Details to be confirmed

CCANESA Boardroom
Level 4, Madsen Building, Eastern Avenue, University of Sydney


In view of the latest developments concerning the spread of the COVID-19, Sydney Environment Institute has decided to postpone all events until further notice.


Climate justice claims and movements have become a ‘dilemmatic space’ (Honig 1994) – an ambiguous setting in which there is no longer any obvious right thing to do. How do we, as concerned citizens and scientists situated in one of the most affluent cities and countries in the world, navigate various justice debates that concern climate-related disasters, vulnerability, loss, compensation, and just transitions, and whose voices and agendas do we represent? Equally important, how do we find our ways within these emerging dilemmas without losing track of core development goals in the Anthropocene and our commitment to decolonizing development and disaster scholarship?

Here, I use the example of the Transformations Conference in Santiago, Chile, in October 2019 as a trigger event to reflect on the epistemic violence and slow emergencies we may inflict onto large segments of society  ̶  perhaps not willingly, but nonetheless, by projecting our privilege to envision alternative climate futures while silencing other voices that demand basic justice in so-called ‘bread-and-butter issues’ (e.g. affordable housing, health care), in our well-meaning efforts to create a better world.


Petra Tschakert is Centenary Professor in Rural Development in the Department of Geography at the University of Western Australia. She is trained as a human-environment geographer and conducts research at the intersection of political ecology, climate change adaptation, climate justice, and livelihood security. Her current work explores intangible harm in the context of climate change, with particular emphasis on poverty, vulnerability, and inequalities.

Please RSVP to: geosciences.research@sydney.edu.au