23 March 2022

Where Floods Are Allowed: Climate Adaptation as Defiant Acceptance in the Elbe River Valley

Assistant Professor Kristoffer Albris contritubed to the book Cooling Down. Local Responses to Global Climate Change edited by Susanna M. Hoffman, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, and Paulo Mendes, with the chapter 'Where Floods Are Allowed: Climate Adaptation as Defiant Acceptance in the Elbe River Valley'. 

Climate change is a slowly advancing crisis sweeping over the planet and affecting different habitats in strikingly diverse ways. While nations have signed treaties and implemented policies, most actual climate change assessments, adaptations, and countermeasures take place at the local level. People are responding by adjusting their practices, livelihoods, and cultures, protesting and migrating. This book portrays the diversity of explanations and remedies as expressed at the community level and its emphasis on the crucial importance of ethnographic detail in demonstrating how people in different parts of the world are scaling down the phenomenon of global warming.

In this chapter, the author examine how residents adapt to living in flood risk inundation zones in the Elbe River Valley, around the Saxon capital of Dresden. The author describe how individuals and families have recovered and rebuilt their homes after the most recent flood events in 2002 and 2013, and how they reflect on the future as being uncertain. The author outline the difficult choices they face in considering whether to move away from an area they feel attached to, or to stay, in spite of the  growing realization that more floods will come in the future as a result of changing climatic paterns in this region of Europe.

Importantly, the ethnography shows that people defiantly but also ambivalently accept the uncertain conditions they face by
staying. Moreover, the ethnography describes how such defiant forms of risk acceptance need to be understood within a  political economy of flood risk management, whereby some areas are seen as worthy of protection by the authorities while others, for various reasons, are not.

Albris, K.(2022). Where Floods Are Allowed: Climate Adaptation as Defi ant Acceptance in the Elbe River Valley. S. M. Hoffman, T.H. Eriksen and P. Mendes (red.), Cooling Down. Local Responses to Global Climate Change (s. 249). Berghahn Books.

Open access
Made available under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license with support from Knowledge Unlatched. You will find the book as pdf and e-book at Berghahn Books.