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Title: Grafted Futures: Climate Adaptation in a Post-Soviet World
Authors: Rubinov, Igor
Advisors: Biehl, João
Contributors: Anthropology Department
Keywords: adaptation
climate change
Subjects: Cultural anthropology
Environmental studies
Climate change
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: What does adaptation to climate change entail? How do communities considered to be the “most vulnerable,” respond to environmental changes beyond their control? This dissertation explores the implementation of pilot climate adaptation projects by international development planners and their collaborators working in Tajikistan’s government and NGO sectors. My research brings to light the struggles, aspirations, and achievements of the people targeted by these projects. Amidst the derelict industries and infrastructural ruins of the Soviet Union, a vast majority of Tajik men migrate to Russia to access higher wages through illicit work. Meanwhile, international aid organizations try (and often fail) to help Tajik communities respond to serious climatic changes: most acutely, shrinking glaciers providing less runoff for irrigation. I seek to understand how households stay rooted to a place that is ecologically and economically precarious. With so little help available from external entities, and so many working as migrants abroad, my informants labored to graft familial networks, social lives, and future imaginaries to local places. This dissertation explores the lived reality of climate adaptation as a twinned strategy of rooting and dispersal. In tending to orchards, my informants endeavored to nurture scions: which can be understood as both branches of trees amenable to grafting and notable descendants of a family. Keeping households afloat in a precarious environment without government support required a reliance on what could be cultivated from the land. The scion’s dual nature highlights the interdependence of ecology and family in the mountainous regions of contemporary Central Asia. In building up this strategy over several turbulent post- Soviet decades, residents were able to accommodate new norms and agendas from NGOs and state agencies into adaptive transnational livelihoods. Families facing uncertainty transformed their relationship to the state, development institutions, and the environment through collaborative adaptation.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Anthropology

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