Appraising Risks: Patterns of Major Socio-Economic Risk and Risk Projection in the Indian Ocean World
Prof. Dr. Angela Schottenhammer is part of a multi-disciplinary, international team of scholars under the directorship of Professor Gwyn Campbell of McGill University that has been awarded a $2.5 million partnership grant funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to investigate six periods of historical and contemporary environmental (e.g. climate change, volcanism, monsoons, cyclones, drought) and human (e.g. famine, disease, conflict, migration) crisis, in order to elucidate past-to-to-present patterns that will help inform current and future risk preparedness and socio-human responses to environmental crises and disasters.
The Indian Ocean world (IOW), a macro-region stretching from Africa to China, is a significant global socio-ecological system. Factors such as climate change, the monsoon system, El Niño Southern Oscillation, and volcanism, have profoundly affected its history. Moreover, it contains 17 of the 20 countries most at risk from global warming and associated rising sea levels, and increasing frequency and intensity of drought, famine, conflict over scarce natural resources, and human migration.
This research project applies a conceptual-analytical methodology designed to bridge the boundaries between social and natural sciences. Adopting Fernand Braudel’s view that conventional frameworks of historical analysis are inadequate as analytical tools because they largely ignore both environmental factors and natural cycles and related temporal spans, project members will interrogate, on macro and micro levels, the relationship between clusters of unfavourable environmental events and adverse historical tipping points.
Schottenhammer will lead one of eight teams in the project. Her team, which focuses on the eastern section of the Indian ocean world (IOW), includes Dr. Mathieu Torck and Wim De Winter, M.A. (both Ghent University, Belgium), Dr. Ma Guang (Shandong University, PRChina), Dr. Kimura Jun (Tokai University, Japan), Xu Zhexin (Salzburg University, Austria), Dr. Li Man (Vasco Da Gama European Institute of Diplomacy and International Relations, Belgium), Dr. Alexander Jost (European Centre for Chinese Studies, Peking University, PRChina; Salzburg University, Austria), Prof. Dr. Tansen Sen and Dr. Elke Papelitzky (both NYU Shanghai). Her team will recruit a number of PhD and postgraduate student (including habilitation) to write their thesis on issues related to the impacts in the eastern IOW of the six periods of environmental crisis and human reactions to them.