In the Shadow of the Seawall journeys to the low-lying lands of Guyana and the Maldives to grapple with the existential dilemma of seawalls alongside struggles to resist displacement. With the gathering momentum of ocean instability wrought by centuries of injustice, seawalls have become objects of conflict and negotiation, around which human struggles for power and resistance collide. Through stories of colonial ruination and green seawalls, the concept of placekeeping emerges—a justice-oriented framework for addressing adaptation and the global dangers of coastal disruption at the front lines of climate change. Drawing on ethnographic observation and interviews, Gray shows how seawalls are entrenched in relationships of power and entangled in processes of making and keeping place.
In the Shadow of the Seawall Coastal Injustice and the Dilemma of Placekeeping
About the Book
Reviews"A remarkable book. Climate change is reducing the amount of our earth safe for human habitation, and this volume—with its particular focus on coastal communities—catches the injustice, poignance, and possibility that these shifts present. Placekeeping will become a watchword going forward."—Bill McKibben, author, educator, environmentalist, and cofounder of 350.org
"In this evocative critical sociology of climate adaptation and resilience, Summer Gray invites us to appreciate the struggles by which the least powerful try to stay in place. Comparing struggles for climate justice in the low-lying lands of Guyana and the Maldives, Gray reveals seawalls to be multivalent sites for people to negotiate colonial oppression, resist racial capitalism, maintain livelihoods, and fight for democracy and sovereignty. With no easy solutions to climate change as communities face complex experiences of attachment to place and the anxiety of anticipated loss, persistence in mutual support may be the best way to respond to global inequality, climate injustice, and uneven adaptation."—Mimi Sheller, author of Island Futures: Caribbean Survival in the Anthropocene
"In the Shadow of the Seawall renders and clarifies the stakes of important dilemmas surrounding climate change adaptation, with a particular focus on seawalls as infrastructures that both make and mark longer histories of inequality and power, operating at multiple scales. Summer Gray productively places the idea of placekeeping at the root of the discussion, allowing readers to see the contradictions and ambivalence attendant to holding on to where you are."—Rebecca Elliott, author of Underwater: Loss, Flood Insurance, and the Moral Economy of Climate Change in the United States