Environment and Displacement

I am currently collaborating with Dr. Elizabeth Lunstrum (Geography) and Dr. Anna Zalik (Environmental Studies) at York University as leaders of the Environmental Displacement Cluster of the Canadian Refugee Resettlement Network.  We are planning to host a conference in May 2012 addressing the issue of environmentally induced displacement (EID).  From climate change to resource extraction projects, landscapes are being transformed at an unprecedented scale. Conservation efforts are at the same time being instituted to address the loss of habitat and to make urban spaces more sustainable. While seemingly distinct from one another, these share an important feature: they all provoke forms of EID. As such phenomena impact ever-larger spaces, communities are confronted with the loss of their land and other vital resources. These groups are often vulnerable to begin with, lacking secure rights and access to resources and to formal recourse once these are jeopardized. While scholars have begun to address EID, their conversations tend to focus on particular phenomena, which leaves their insights somewhat insulated from one another. There is consequently need for a more comprehensive and systematic understanding of EID. This workshop will bring together 21 invited scholars and 9 graduate student participants with expertise in EID in different contexts and locations to develop an overarching conversation to better grasp linkages and chart trends across seemingly distinct contexts. Our focus will be on displacement caused by climate change, extractive industries, and conservation. Together these constitute the most pressing forms of EID in Canada and globally. The workshop will be organized around themes that cut across these forms of environmental displacement. These include questions of (1) what constitutes environmental displacement; (2) the practices and discourses through which it is organized and instituted; and (3) how various groups respond to such displacement.