Climate-framed displacement: Towards decolonising, de-dichotomising and democratising resilience

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


This paper advances the under-theorised intersection of climate change, human im/mobility and colonialism to challenge dominant constructions of resilience within the context of the pressing phenomenon known as climate-induced displacement. Drawing on critical feminist and mobile political ecology, I propose to replace “climate-induced displacement” with “climate-framed displacement” so to advance understandings of climate change – and its uneven impacts on human im/mobility – as both a biophysical and socio-political conundrum. To back up this proposition, I discuss three ways in which resilience constitutes a powerful discursive device which defends reductionist and apolitical climate-displacement frameworks.

First, resilience rhetoric, which embellishes seemingly positive migration-as-adaptation discourse, hides the colonial legacies and intertemporal and interspatial injustices which underpin the uneven experiences and explanations of intersecting climate-mobility challenges. Thereby, climate change is depoliticised and de-historicised and reasserted along Eurocentric dichotomies, such as developed-developing and vulnerable-resilient, but also human-nature. Likewise, climate-induced displacement is insistently framed as an “environmental” problem of “the Global South.” This allows authorities to mobilise affected, “vulnerable” communities to “create resilience” against an increasingly hostile climate, rather than valuing nature as an ally in fostering place-based and multi-representational socio-ecological transformations. Lastly, whilst resilience is often presented in conjunction with buzzwords such as “community-based,” it continues to be controlled by higher authorities. Focusing on “community resilience” allows policymakers and institutions to responsibilise at-risk communities, making them the agents of change amidst their uprootedness (i.e., learning to “cope” with adverse adaptation). The locus of intervention and responsibility in climate-mobility challenges is thereby positioned with communities, not governments, presenting a grave paradox of exclusiveness behind the “inclusive” democratic façade of resilience.

I conclude that centring climate-mobility discussions around the framed nature of “climate-induced” displacement constitutes a key step towards advancing the urgent but undervalued task of decolonising, de-dichotomising and democratising resilience. Climate-framed displacement can, I argue, become a vital conceptual tool for illuminating new pathways away from colonial and static developed-developing, human-nature and agent-victim dichotomies, and towards more flexible, just and sustainable solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2022
EventInternational Resilience Revolution Conference - Winter Gardens Conference Centre, Blackpool, United Kingdom
Duration: 30 Mar 202231 Mar 2022


ConferenceInternational Resilience Revolution Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Climate-induced displacement
  • Resilience
  • Climate change
  • Migration-as-adaptation


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