Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationTemple U.
Grant numberGr. 9234
Approve DateApril 8, 2016
Project TitleJessee, Nathan Aaron, Temple U., Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'Inhabiting Disaster Media Worlds: Visual Media, Indigenous Activism, and Adaptation to Coastal Hazards in Louisiana,' supervised by Dr. Damien Stankiewicz
NATHAN JESSEE, a graduate student at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was granted funding in April 2016 to aid research on ‘Inhabiting Disaster Media Worlds: Visual Media, Indigenous Activism, and Adaptation to Coastal Hazards in Louisiana,’ supervised by Dr. Damien Stankiewicz. This research followed the Isle de Jean Charles Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe’s resettlement process and the media attention their experiences and efforts have garnered. In response to decades of coastal erosion, land subsidence, and the subsequent outward migration of community members, tribal leaders have been planning their resettlement for nearly twenty years to reunite their tribe and rejuvenate their communal ways of life. In January of 2016, the tribe’s longstanding resettlement plans were awarded $52 million in support from National Disaster Resilience Competition, leading the New York Times and other global institutions to dub them ‘the first official American climate refugees’ and initiating a planning process that would completely transform their efforts to resettle. This research investigated three components of this newfound visibility: 1) the material, social, and cultural encounters produced as experiences were circulated through journalism, film, and community-driven initiatives; 2) the impacts this visibility; and 3) the emergent social tensions of climate adaptation as reflected in the circulation of representations of the tribe, their land, and the socio-environmental processes. This research demonstrates how resettlement and environmental change are conditioned by broader historical injustices associated with settler colonialism. Climate adaptation policy and programming must incorporate social justice in design and implementation.