Stephanie Mariko Ratte

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Columbia U.

Grant number

Gr. 10238

Approve Date

October 7, 2021

Project Title

Ratte, Stephanie (Columbia U.) "Before the Flood: The Politics and Materiality of Anticipating Climate Futures in Hawai‘i"

My project examines the politics and materiality of future making in Honolulu, Hawai’i. I ask how engineers, environmental scientists, community members, and city and state officials anticipate the possibility of floods, as the state works to save its most precious spaces from the potentially ruinous effects of climate change-related storms. These concerns center on the flood risks posed by the Ala Wai Canal, a colonial artifact with an incongruous nature: highly polluted but recreationally popular, the canal is an artificial waterway that created contemporary Waik_k_, Hawai’i’s center of tourism, yet now purportedly represents its doom. If heavy rains overwhelm the capacity of the canal to empty stormwaters, its toxic waters are in danger of flowing into surrounding neighborhoods. Through an ethnographic examination of an ongoing project led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reduce this flood risk, I investigate how diverse actors engage in practices that anticipate, envision, and work toward particular futures. My research asks: What futures do these actors imagine when they consider remaking the canal? How is matter problematized and labored on through these future making efforts? What ethics, politics, and epistemes are revealed when particular spaces are deemed worth, or not worth, saving?