Temporality in the Climate-Mobility Nexus: Examples from London

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


In recent decades, mobilities studies and climate change studies have witnessed a temporal turn. Temporal concepts such as waithood (Honwana, 2014) and (non-)linearity (Amrith, 2020) increasingly feature in research on migratory experiences. Likewise, climatic changes are often explored by unraveling “choked and tangled futures” (Cons, 2020) or cumulative colonial pasts (Davis et al., 2019). At the intersection of climate and mobility conundrums, however, notions of (inter)temporality often remain sterile, if not silent. The studies that do address temporality at this “climate-mobility nexus” are frequently limited to “Global South” contexts, leaving “Global North” settings, including London, temporarily untended.

This paper offers examples from London to articulate three tropes embedded in mainstream climate-mobility conversations, highlighting causes and consequences of this temporal truancy. First, climate reductionism (Hulme, 2011), which frames climate-mobility issues as “natural” emergencies, seemingly void of human agency. Second, crisis-centrism, which chronicles an unprecedented “climate crisis” whilst overshadowing longstanding intergenerational (and intersectional) socio-ecological injustices. Finally, developmentalist dichotomy, whereby climate-mobility issues are persistently framed and fought along traditional Eurocentric developed-developing divides.

In London, these tropes compile in an atemporal and apolitical discourse, allowing climatic challenges to displace not only communities, but also institutional responsibility to address these injustices. This naturalises, for instance, how “climate-induced” floods may soon drown already-disadvantaged boroughs like Newham, as London’s mayor Sadiq Khan warned. I conclude that justice-based approaches may be imperative to advance (inter)temporality in London’s critical climate-mobility condition. To rectify, in short, ruined mobilities and climate securities of past generations, and ratify those of the future.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2022
EventNarratives of Displacement International Conference - Birbeck College, London
Duration: 28 Oct 202230 Oct 2022


ConferenceNarratives of Displacement International Conference
Internet address


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