Jonna Marie Yarrington

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Arizona, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9567

Approve Date

October 11, 2017

Project Title

Yarrington, Jonna M., U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - To aid research on 'The Disappearing Island: The Effect of Imminent Displacement on Social Exchange Relations on Tangier Island,' supervised by Dr. Brackette F. Williams

Tangier Island is a small, incorporated town, just over one square mile, of 470 inhabitants in the Chesapeake Bay, belonging to Accomack County, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, USA. Its residents are densely related watermen and their families–mostly white, lower income, politically conservative, Christian, and skeptical of science and climate change. Endogamous marriage is preferred, resulting in residents who are kin in multiple ways to each other, while also holding individuated roles that are defined by occupation, gender, and other modes of differentiation. Their island, a series of three sandy ridges, is sinking, with scientists predicting it will be uninhabitable in 25-50 years, due to anthropogenic sea-level rise. This project asks: what is the effect of impending displacement on concepts of property and relatedness for Tangier islanders? What happens to inheritance, role succession, and local hierarchy in the face of imminent displacement? The project is comparative. Data will be gathered on historic (1900-2010) and contemporary (2010-present) relations, roles, and exchange practices, and on emic concepts of nature, time, and displacement, via a 13-month period of archival work and fieldwork, including interviewing, genealogical and oral history elicitation, and participant-observation, in four phases. The project seeks to fill a gap in anthropology’s understanding the socio-cultural effects of climate change, including for populations that contest scientific epistemologies, and seeks to contribute to social science on recognition of interests, concomitant injuries of class, and socially stratified outcomes of imminent displacement.