Basket weaving and social weaving: Young Ghanaian artisans' mobilization of resources through mobility in times of climate change

Mette Fog Olwig, Katherine V. Gough

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

An important topic in climate change discourse is the question of ‘‘climate refugees’’ and climate-related mobility, which is often presented as failed adaptation. This discourse feeds into, and reinvigorates, antimobility sentiments, especially concerning youth, among nongovernmental and governmental organizations that conceptualize mobility as involuntary and associated with social rupture. Challenging this understanding, we argue that mobility can be an important strategy for mobilizing resources through social relations, what we call ‘‘social weaving.’’ Analyzing young northern Ghanaian artisans’ narratives of mobility, related in the aftermath of flooding attributed to climate change, we show, firstly, that mobility among young people is commonplace and that the decision to either stay or move is typically an active choice associated with the artisans’ fabric of relations. Secondly, we demonstrate how the development field can be seen to be largely based on, as well as generating, social relations. Indeed, while there has been a tendency towards anti-mobility sentiments among development organizations, NGOs themselves often become woven into the local artisans’ fabric of relations and strategies for mobility. We thus illustrate how the global field of development and its local manifestations can be presented as a form of social weaving consisting of practiced and imagined relations between, and among, global and local actors in development, thereby moving away from a structure-oriented focus within development research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeoforum
Volume45
Pages (from-to)168-177
ISSN0016-7185
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

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