1st Edition

Local Adaptation to Climate Change in South India Challenges and the Future in the Tsunami-hit Coastal Regions

By Devendraraj Madhanagopal Copyright 2023
    242 Pages 31 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book critically discusses the vulnerabilities and local adaptation actions of the traditional marine fishers of the tsunami-hit coastal regions of South India to climate change and risks, with an emphasis on their local institutions. Thereby, it offers a comprehensive account of the ways in which marine fishers live and respond to climate change.

    The Coromandel coastal regions of South India are known for their rich sociocultural history and enormous marine resources, as well as their long history of vulnerability to climate change and disasters, including the 2004 tsunami. By drawing cases from the tsunami-hit fishing villages of this coast, this book demonstrates that indigenous knowledge systems, climate change perceptions, sociocultural norms, and governance systems of the fishers influence and contest the local adaptation responses to climate change. By foregrounding the real picture of vulnerability and adaptation actions of marine fishers in the face of climate change and disasters, this book also challenges the conventional understanding of local institutions and fishers' knowledge systems. Underlining that adaptation to climate change is a sociopolitical process, this book explores the potentials, limits, and complexities of local adaptation actions of marine fishers of this coast and offers novel insights and climate change lessons gleaned from the field to other coasts of India and around the world.

    This book will be of great interest to students, scholars, and policymakers in climate change, fisheries, environmental sociology, environmental anthropology, sustainable livelihoods, and natural resource management.

    Chapter 1 Coromandel Coast of South India: Centuries-old fishing communities under climate change and disasters

    Chapter 2 Conceptual underpinnings and introducing the framework

    Chapter 3 Unraveling climate change and disasters: Navigating to the field

    Chapter 4 Indigenous knowledge systems in confronting climate change: Opportunities and constraints

    Chapter 5 Living with climate change: Vulnerability and adaptation actions

    Chapter 6 Local institutions: Boon or bane in local adaptation to climate change?

    Chapter 7 Fisherwomen and their agencies: Scope and challenges in adapting to climate change.

    Chapter 8 Conclusion and the way forward

    Appendix (References)


    Devendraraj Madhanagopal (Ph.D.) is an Assistant Professor ( I ) in the School of Sustainability at XIM University (Odisha, India). He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (Mumbai, India). He is the recipient of several international travel grants/fellowships. His works appear in Environment, Development and Sustainability and Metropolitics journals. He is the corresponding editor of the following edited books: (i) Environment, Climate, and Social Justice: Perspectives and Practices from the Global South (2022), (ii) Climate Change and Risk in South and Southeast Asia: Sociopolitical Perspectives, Routledge, UK (forthcoming), and (iii) Social Work and Climate Justice: International Perspectives, Routledge, UK (forthcoming).

    "A truly impressive work that plugs into an important knowledge gap in the overall global discussion of climate change which so far has been dominated by natural science and hardcore economics. The book is a study of the Pattinavars, a marginalized and traditional marine fishing community in South-eastern India. It focuses on livelihoods and social contexts and argues how concepts of "local adaptation," "vulnerability," and "sustainability" are central to bring into the discussion of climate change as they highlight local coping strategies and community-based traditional knowledge of the natural environment and climate variations. The book is furthermore an important contribution to coastal studies in other parts of the world."

    Esther Fihl, Professor Emerita of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies at University of Copenhagen

    "As a researcher of climate change adaptation measures being undertaken in South Asia, I find great value in this book. We need high quality, thick descriptions of climate change impacts on this region. This analysis underscores the overlapping vulnerabilities that can impact regions as they face multiple waves of shocks. By framing this study in terms of the region's social-ecological system, Dr. Madhanagopal provides a critical account of how our vulnerable regions are adapting to, and falling victim to, the ever-changing nature of climate and the adaptive capacity of human beings."

    Christopher Koliba, Ph.D. Professor, Community Development and Applied Economics Department, University of Vermont (UVM)

    "Despite all the adaptation and mitigation efforts, climate change continues to be the primary concern, especially for coastal communities in hard-hit regions – those in the frontline. There’s much to be learned about how communities cope and deal with disaster risk, and vulnerability associated with climate change, and D. Madhanagopal does a great job in portraying this, with the case of a fishing community in South India, Pattinavars. Through thick description and in-depth analysis, the book reminds us that it is the ‘experience near’ people like the fishers of Pattinavars who can tell us a great deal about what it means to live in disaster prone areas, and why it is important to ‘get the institution right’ when dealing with climate change."

    Ratana Chuenpagdee, Science Director, TBTI Global Foundation & University Research Professor, Memorial University of Newfoundland

    "This insightful and timely work offers a comprehensive analysis of the climate change vulnerabilities and adaptations of Pattinavar marine fishers in South India. Dr. Devendraraj Madhanagopal skillfully illuminates how Indigenous knowledge, local institutions, and gender relations influence survival strategies within this frontline community. This book is essential reading detailing how climate change is affecting people’s livelihoods, and how place-based societies are responding to current challenges."

    Brett Clark, Author of The Tragedy of the Commodity and The Robbery of Nature. Professor of Sociology and Sustainability studies at the University of Utah

    "This book reminds us that fishing communities have developed livelihoods in coastal areas for millennia. Their traditional environmental knowledge, accumulated through generations, has helped to overcome natural hazards. Their traditional institutions have also helped in this task. However, transformations induced by climate change make us wonder whether this knowledge is still capable of confronting current challenges or how it needs to be intertwined with scientific knowledge. Likewise, the fit of traditional institutions to these challenges is analysed in this book. This book advances in uncovering the social side of climate change and natural hazards using social science methodologies and qualitative analysis focused on the diversity of small-scale fishing populations involved, with a particular focus on women. This is an insufficiently developed field in the literature, and this book constitutes an outstanding contribution."

    José J. Pascual-Fernández, Professor of Social Anthropology, Director of the Institute of Social Research and Tourism, University of La Laguna (Tenerife, Spain)

    "In the global discourse of climate change and adaptation, there is a massive need to bring the voices of populations to the margin. They have been experiencing climate-related disasters for generations, and in that, they have developed sophisticated yet pragmatic approaches to deal with the impacts of climate change. Dr. Madhanagopal takes us through the vulnerabilities and sociocultural strengths of the community in Pattinavars in this thought-provoking and well-grounded text. This timely book argues for the need to look at climate change impacts and adaptation beyond scientific lenses and the necessity for understanding social, political, cultural, and economic aspects of the lived experiences of communities. This is a critical read for those who are involved in research and policymaking as well as interested in climate change impact experiences of communities."

    Janaka Jayawickrama (Ph.D.), University of York, United Kingdom