Cultural Anthropology; (Post)colonial Science Studies; Environment; Expertise; Climate Change; Vulnerability; Critical Theories of Race and Racialization; Theories of Liberalism; Caribbean/Latin America
Sarah E. Vaughn’s primary field is the critical study of climate change. She received her B.A. in 2006 from Cornell University, majoring as a College Scholar with a focus in Anthropology, Sociology, and Inequality Studies. She was awarded a Ph.D. in 2013 from the Department of Anthropology, Columbia University. She has engaged climate change through both ethnographic and archival research of the geotechnical engineering sciences, flooding, sea defense, and at the intersection of artisanal mining and forest mapping. At stake is the way climate change generates problem spaces and claims to expertise.
I am a sociocultural anthropologist whose focus is the critical study of climate change and its expertise in the present. This concern informs my recent articles and book in-progress entitled Engineering Vulnerability: An Ethnography of Climate Change and Expertise. The book develops a case study of coastal flooding in Guyana as a site to think with and through how people learn to pay attention to hydraulic modeling operations across forms of expert labor. In privileging hydraulic models I seek to analyze the ways scientific narrative devices are enacted and become related to everyday experiences of climate change. In doing so, the book re-conceptualizes data in ethnography as less a problem of representation than encounters with an unruly world. It dovetails into a broader set of themes related to expertise including technology and nature, race and liberalism, as well as (post)coloniality and science.
These themes inform my other ethnographic interests in how climate change may be rematerializing ideas about politics and regionality. One project tracks various instances of mine exploration with the emergence of global low-carbon economies in the Guiana Shield. More broadly, this project asks what it means to think regionality and scalar transformations through the mapping of territory. Another project considers the re-migration of Caribbean technocrats and their efforts to construct region-based climate modeling centres and (possible) geoengineering projects out of Belize/Jamaica.
“The Political Economy of Regions: Climate Change and Dams in Guyana.” Special Issue: The Global South: Histories, Politics, Maps Radical History Review 131 (May): 105-126.
May 2017. “Imagining the Ordinary in Participatory Climate Adaptation.” Special Collection: Ways of Knowing in Weather, Climate, and Society 9(3): 533-43.
May 2017. “Disappearing Mangroves: The Epistemic Politics of Climate Adaptation in Guyana.” Cultural Anthropology 32(2): 441-67.
December 2012. “Reconstructing the citizen: Disaster, citizenship, and expertise in racial Guyana.” Critique of Anthropology 32(4): 359-86.
Engineering Vulnerability: An Ethnography of Climate Change and Expertise (Under Review)