Tsunami Warnings:
Cultural Conceptualizations of Climate Change Impacts in Kiribati

The inhabitants of Kiribati, an atoll state in the Central Pacific, have long been confronted with scientific scenarios of sea-level rise, inundation and displacement as a result of climate change. This article focuses on the nexus of climate change and tsunamis. While most I-Kiribati are well aware of the difference between tidal waves, caused primarily by earthquakes, and climate change impacts, political discourse on climate change and experiences with national tsunami warnings have contributed to the consolidation of these linkages. My analytical approach to this variable field of interconnections combines reception studies and assemblage theory. I will show that the I-Kiribati practice of interlinking climate change and tsunamis contributes on the one hand to making an abstract future threat like sea-level rise tangible, while on the other hand it can also be utilized to contest an external scientific projection that holds out the prospect of losing land, culture, and identity.


Climate Change, Tsunamis, Sea-level Rise, Reception Studies, Assemblage, Religion


Wolfgang Kempf:
Tsunami Warnings. Cultural Conceptualizations of Climate Change Impacts in Kiribati. In: Journal de la Société des Océanistes 149 (2), pp. 309–320. https://doi.org/10.4000/jso.10877 (External Link)