This essay offers a critical perspective on the role technology plays in the Caribbean formation of climate adaptation. It locates this critical perspective in “the embodiment of technology,” a concept in the writings of the late political economist Norman Girvan that helped him describe how Caribbean states acquire technology and related infrastructures despite at times not having resources to maintain them. The embodiment of technology is still important today for mapping the possibilities of climate adaptation—that is, if technology transfer is a historically embodied process, then climate adaptation is a measure of how people recognize the political failures and the potentials of technology over time. The essay suggests that attention to Girvan’s writings is central to critical Caribbean scholarship on climate change for two reasons: his writings reflect the forms of intergenerational responsibility that shape climate adaptation, and they examine the shifting meaning of technology to regional identity.
Caribbean Technological Thought and Climate Adaptation
Sarah E. Vaughn is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. She has engaged in the critical study of climate change through ethnographic research of the geotechnical-hydraulic engineering sciences in Guyana and the shifting commercial frameworks for climate services and big data throughout the Caribbean. She is currently completing a book manuscript, “Engineering Vulnerability: In Pursuit of Climate Adaptation.”
Sarah E. Vaughn; Caribbean Technological Thought and Climate Adaptation. Small Axe 1 July 2020; 24 (2 (62)): 110–121. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-8604526
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