Peter Rudiak-Gould
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Why are some people intensely worried about global climate change while others react with a yawn? Why are 97% of scientists convinced that the problem is real and caused by humans, but only 49% of Americans? Who is responsible for climate change (everyone, no one, rich people, politicians, corporations?) and why does it matter who takes the blame? Will Hurricane Sandy, heat waves, and the polar vortex make us finally round the bend of public awareness, or is it just more of the same? Should we listen to the farmers, fishers, and backyard gardeners who say they can see climate change happening around them, or should we leave that to the scientists with their ice cores samples and global circulation models? What would happen if we saw climate change as a local issue and not a global one? How can we effectively teach climate change to children? Do indigenous and traditional communities have something to teach us about how to weather the storm?

I studied these and other questions as an Assistant Professor Status-Only at the University of Toronto, a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at McGill University, and a doctoral student at Oxford University.  My research uses ethnographic methods to examine indigenous responses to the threat of climate change. It is based on 19 months spent in the Marshall Islands, including 7 months of fieldwork devoted to this topic, and extensive interviews in the Marshallese language. 

Here's a good summary of my findings. My work has been featured in the New InternationalistNPR blog, and Scientific American. My homepage has a full list of my publications and presentations. I've designed and delivered three undergraduate courses in cultural anthropology, environment, and climate change. 

I also conducted a short project on climate change perceptions among the Sami, the indigenous people of northern Scandinavia, as a Visiting Researcher at the University of Tromsø, Norway.


Climate Change and Tradition in a Small Island State: The Rising Tide

How would you react if someone told you that your entire country would be uninhabitable within your lifetime? This book, published by Routledge in 2013, investigates how the people of the low-lying Marshall Islands understand and respond to the threat that sea level rise and climate change pose to their way of life. Order it here.
“A well-written, empathetic, and thoughtful contribution….The book should take its rightful place among the best in the new ethnographic genre about the emerging tragedy [of climate change].”
-Dr. David Lipset, Professor of Anthropology, Univ. of Minnesota (Review in Oceania)

“An engaging, important, and highly scholarly contribution to the literature…The author’s introspection, depth of data, and balanced analysis delve deeply into humanity’s interests in and reactions to human-caused climate change.”
-Dr. Ilan Kelman, Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, University College London (Review in Island Studies Journal) 

“A uniquely sensitive and nuanced account of…the complex and changing relationships between society and nature…A welcome contribution to thinking about modernity, mobility and climate change, and the reactions and resilience of those most threatened.”
-Dr. John Connell, Professor of Human Geography, University of Sydney (Review in Australian Geographer 45(2))

Practical Marshallese

This is a freely distributed, full-length textbook for learning Marshallese, the native language of the Marshall Islands. It has been used since 2004 as the official language manual for all volunteers in the WorldTeach Marshall Islands program, and it has formed the basis of language classes for Americans at Kwajalein Atoll. The 102 short lessons describe the grammar of the language in practical and familiar terms, and a glossary presents 1500 useful words.
Download the book for free here. Nik Willson's excellent Marshallese-English dictionary Naan can be downloaded here. Marshallese audio files made by Byron Bender can be obtained by emailing Daniel Tom (danielt AT hawaii DOT edu).
“A lucid course of instruction...The care with which you have transcribed words, phrases, and sentences is remarkable.”
-Dr. Byron Bender, Professor of Linguistics, University of Hawai'i-Mānoa
“A work of monumental worth and information.”
-Bettylene Franzus, WorldTeach Marshall Islands volunteer

All content © Peter Rudiak-Gould 2016 except where otherwise stated