Climate change as a process of embodiment

Tuesday April 9th, 2024

Zofia Boni, the project PI, visited the Wellcome Centre at the University of Exeter.

We live in a world that has been affected by an unprecedented anthropogenically driven environmental and climate shifts. Yet because the discourse around climate crisis remains dominated by biophysical perspectives, the changes often seems abstract, presented through difficult models and numbers and not easily seen, felt, smelled, tasted or heard. This talk suggests that the framework of embodiment provides a new and different way of understanding these changes and their consequences. It enables bridging the vast biophysical and temporal scale of climate change with people’s daily experiences and connecting the natural and social sciences. I look at the body – and not only at the changing temperature degrees or other environmental factors – as an important locus of climate change.

Increased urban heat is one of the most striking effects of climate crisis that affects many vulnerable groups, including adults above 65 years old. Building on interdisciplinary research with older adults conducted in Warsaw and Madrid in 2021-2022, this talk aims to demonstrate how climate change happens within and between the bodies of older people. The research included ethnographic fieldwork, participatory workshops, group interviews, sensors’ measurements and a representative survey conducted in both cities. By focusing on the case of urban heat, this talk explores the idea of climate change not only as an environmental, geopolitical and biophysical process, but as a process of embodiment.

You can watch the lecture and the discussion here.