UCL Anthropology


The CAoS Cosmopolitics Podcast: Contemporary climate and sustainability action across worlds

Summer 2024

This weekly pod and video cast series features widely comprehensible bite sized presentations by academics working on the cutting edge of climate change and sustainability research across various disciplines. The series will connect an emerging community committed to climate action and justice; transition to renewable resources; strengthening grassroots communication and capacity building, with a strong focus on incorporating Indigenous and subaltern worldviews and sustainability strategies into global conversations.

All episodes are available on YouTube.

We welcome interested academics to participate live and contribute to the conversation – please contact r.bold@ucl.ac.uk

Dr. Jonathan Mille: Wednesday 24 April

UCL Climate Action Unit

Jonathan specialises in the study of systemic risks, natural hazards and resilience strategies, focusing on how these interact in the context of climate change and energy transitions. His work is multidisciplinary, bridging the gap between the physical sciences and risk management to help diverse stakeholders develop adaptation and mitigation approaches. He also works on issues of systemic dependencies in the intertwined context of climate change and energy systems. Jonathan is also involved in science communication and education, particularly in the areas of systemic risk, vulnerability and resilience. Drawing on his extensive experience, he creates compelling narratives to inform diverse audiences about environmental challenges. He is also contributing his expertise to the creation of the documentary series Into the Rewild, whose development he is advising.

Dr. Tejas Rao: Wednesday 1 May

Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge

Tejas will explore the pivotal role of food sovereignty within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its prominence during Conference of the Parties (CoPs) meetings, examining how food sovereignty principles have emerged as a critical component in addressing the complex challenges at the nexus of climate change, agriculture, and food security. He will analyse the evolution of food sovereignty discourse within the UNFCCC framework, highlighting key milestones and achievements. In the context of UNFCCC CoP28, this talk delves into the specific instances where food sovereignty has been underscored during CoPs, showcasing its relevance in shaping global climate policies and ultimately advocating for the protection of farmers in an era of climate uncertainty.

Tejas’ central research investigates how lawyers influence the “implementation of” and “compliance with” international environmental agreements, including the Paris Agreement – how do their biases define our shared normative understandings of these phrases, what are their mechanisms, and what is their community (if at all)? 

Prof. Hannah Knox: Wednesday 8 May

Department of Anthropology, UCL

Hannah’s research is concerned with understanding processes of social and political transformation through the ethnographic study of technical relations and expert practices. Most recently she has been studying the politics of energy and climate change in a project that has been following the pursuit of carbon reduction strategies by a network of scientists, activists and local authority officers in Manchester, UK. Her work is concerned with understanding contemporary manifestations of risk and responsibility, territorial politics, expertise, knowledge and technology.

She is the co-editor of Ethnography for Data Saturated World (2018), ‘Objects and Materials: A Routledge Companion’ (2013), Digital Anthropology Second Edition (2022), and Speaking for the Social: A Catalogue of method (2022). She has also published the research monographs Roads: An Anthropology of Infrastructure and Expertise (2015), and Thinking like a Climate: Governing a City in Times of Environmental Change (2020).

Ruben Dario Chambi: Wednesday 15 May

Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich: PhD Candidate

Reconstituting Suma Qamaña:
Economic practices and expressions of well-being among Aymara traders in the city of El Alto, Bolivia

Ruben Dario Chambi studied Anthropology at the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA), Bolivia, and holds a master’s degree in Human Rights, Democracy and Globalisation from the Universidad Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). Since 2006, he has worked as a project manager, consultant, trainer, and researcher in various academic and development organizations in Bolivia. He is the author of several publications on issues related to autonomy and Indigenous rights, decolonization, “Buen Vivir” (Living Well) and child labour. His current project is focused on the processes of modernity, identity, coloniality and reflection on categories such as “Buen Vivir” among Aymara communities.

His CAoS session will deal his recent studies of Aymara Futurism, as well as his work tracing Suma Qamaña as an anti-colonial Aymara concept of the 1970s and 1980s (different from “Vivir Bien”) to analyse in which ways this notion of well-being manifests itself among contemporary Aymara traders in El Alto. In recent years, this group has become a prolific sector in terms of social, economic and political positioning, giving way to novel expressions that reconfigure the urban. The aim is to delve into the logics of contemporary Aymara well-being, its transitions and projections and, in this process, to discover perspectives that go beyond the official discourses that present these people as communitarian and anti-mercantile societies.

Spring 2024

7 February – Rosalyn Bold

ESRC Principal Investigator, Constructing a Cosmopolitics of Climate Change
Centre for the Anthropology of Sustainability, UCL

My central research interest is the cosmopolitics of climate change, exploring its potential for creating conversations across cultures and disciplines, and seeking to include marginalised voices into the international consideration of this vital issue. I consider how climate change in marginalised indigenous communities expands into a whole complex of changes, unseparated into categories of social and natural, and the provocations this presents to a modern frame of understanding (2019), over the last 50 years in the Bolivian Andes. I consider how cosmological relations with the landscape and its deities are changing or conversely have endured, describing it as a ‘cosmoscape’ (2020), where contrasting worlding practices come to the fore alternatively in certain times and contexts.

21 February – Noah Walker Crawford

ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Political Science, UCL

I am a publicly-engaged researcher on climate change and climate litigation. I hold a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Manchester. During my PhD, I spent a semester at the Harvard Kennedy School as a visiting research fellow in the Program on Science, Technology and Society. Alongside my academic work, I am engaged in climate justice advocacy. My work focuses on the knowledges and notions of responsibility at stake in discussions about climate change. My research follows climate justice claims between climate change impacts, courts, and UN Climate Summits from an ethnographic perspective, exploring how legal activism reframes climate politics. My postdoctoral work examines how climate change attribution science shapes litigation.

28 February – Susannah Fisher

UKRI Future Leaders Principal Research Fellow
Inst for Risk & Disaster Reduction, UCL

Susannah Fisher works across research, policy and practice on adaptation policies, programmes and finance. Her interest is in ensuring these processes support effective and equitable adaptation, and that adaptation is at the scale and ambition we need for the escalating impacts of climate change. One of my key interests is understanding climate politics and governance across different levels of action. This work has analysed the role of ideas and knowledge in shaping national planning processes around climate change, the role of international urban networks in influencing action in cities, and how local action, national policies, international organisations and adaptation finance interact to shape decisions and action in different places. I am developing new work on the politics of measurement practices and knowledge production in adapting to climate change funded by a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship.

6 March – Dr. Olivia Arigho-Stiles

Lecturer, Latin American Studies, School of Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (PHAIS), University of Essex
Research Associate, Rethinking Values of the Anthropocene (University of Bristol)

Olivia Arigho-Stiles is an interdisciplinary researcher of Indigenous histories and the rural world in Bolivia. She completed her PhD in Sociology at the University of Essex in July 2022. She holds a BA in History from the University of Oxford and an MA in Latin American Studies from UCL. Her doctoral project addresses the question as to why and how discourses on the other-than-human become so important for Indigenous movements across the Bolivian highlands in the twentieth century. Her work engages with decolonial theory, environmental history and the Anthropocene in historical perspective. She is currently working on developing her thesis into a monograph exploring the nexus between Indigenous and environmental politics in Bolivia in the twentieth century.  

20 March – Daniel Jonusas

Daniel is a Facilitator and Design Assistant at the UCL Climate Action Unit, helping to design and implement interventions across a wide range of projects.

With a background in the performing arts, Daniel first engaged with climate action as a theatre director and performer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Fascinated by the struggle to tell stories about climate change which inspire action, he completed an MSc in the science and policy of climate change at King’s College London. He used his thesis to investigate the potential for climate change communication to engage with the psychology of social learning and behavioural self-persuasion.

22 March – Tejas Rao

Department of Land Management, University of Cambridge

Tejas Rao is a PhD Candidate at the Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge, where he is a Nehru Trust Scholar, and Research Assistant at the Bennett Institute for Public Policy. He is also Manager at the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law. His research examines narratives and the political economy of international law-making, with a specific focus on epistemic communities and international environmental law. With a cross-cutting interest across the Sustainable Development Goals, he also volunteers time as Operations Co-Lead with Project EduAccess, which aims to improve the representation in higher education of marginalized communities in South Asia by providing application mentorship and guidance.