The global climate crisis has widened inequalities, reignited conflicts and reoriented political struggles as communities and governments struggle to adapt to, and prepare for, radical ecological change. As the far-reaching environmental consequences of the climate crisis become clear, anthropologists have highlighted the ways in which myriad place-based and indigenous ways of being challenge the destructive ecological practices of late capitalism (Cruikshank 2005, Kohn 2013, de la Cadena 2015, Livingston 2019, TallBear and Wiley 2019). While these discussions show the significance of questions of cosmology and spirituality in addressing the present moment, far less attention has been paid to the role of the so-called “world religions” in shaping our ecological present and future. This panel explores the intersections of global religions, politics and the rapid environmental changes brought by climate change, asking how regimes of truth and questions of social responsibility bear out in these contentious contexts. We inquire after the role of Buddhist ethics in mediating understandings of environmental degradation in relation to social inequality in return-to-the-farm movements in South Korea; how climate change and ecological uncertainty are refracted through debates over Muslim funeral practices and the care of past and future generations in Tanzania; how Christian fundamentalist engagement with climate science shape understandings of climate crisis in the Southern United States; how climate change comes to be understood as a question of moral/spiritual pollution by Hindus in the Indian Sundarbans and how Native American stories featuring universal Trickster figures foretell the climate crisis and point to alternative ways of living together. Our panel seeks to bring anthropologies and political ecologies of climate change into conversation with key questions in the anthropology of religion and religious studies in order to explore key questions of truth and responsibility that lie at the heart of our present ecological crisis. Taken together, the papers collected here challenge us to think beyond the binaries of nature and culture, religion and science, and world religions and indigenous belief systems. We explore how scientific and religious discourses about humans and non-humans conflict or converge in communities impacted by climate change, how everyday experiences with climate change interact with religious notions of bodily health, moral purity and public wellbeing, and how the climate crisis shapes moral aspirations, ethics of care and notions of social responsibility among the faithful. Drawing on ethnographic research in diverse contexts, we seek to address urgent questions about the impact of resurgent religiosity on the ecological futures of both human and non-human organisms.
Next from AAA Annual Meeting 2021
Raising Voice: A Conversation on the Structural Contradictions and Affordances of Mediated Voices
AAA Annual Meeting 2021
18 November 2021