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Landscape and Identity in Kiribati
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History. (Global Environmental History)
2017 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

In this thesis, I will look into the relationship between landscape and identity on the island

nation of Kiribati, a low lying island nation in the Micronesian region of the Pacific that is

currently under threat by climate change. Based on qualitative research from several islands

in Kiribati (semi-structured interviews and observations), I explore how landscape and

landscape changes, identity, and present and future challenges are perceived by Kiribati

residents. Landscape is more than just physical surroundings, encompassing qualities of

heritage, memory, skills, knowledge and learning, and there is a strong link between

landscape and identity for Kiribati islanders. Respondents stressed the importance of

community and the ‘simple life’ as important qualities of life in Kiribati. People still come

together frequently in their communities where they discuss issues such as building a new

house for someone. Communities have as main purpose helping each other and are based on

strong bonds of love and friendship. Respondents defined the simple life as a life without

violence, without having to worry about money, without any major natural disasters (apart

from climate change), and a life in which people are open and friendly to everyone. When it

comes to present and future challenges, most respondents were worried about issues related to

environmental changes such as changes in fresh water resources and coastal erosion.

Although many respondents felt the effect of these environmental changes and people have

become more aware of the link between those and global warming, many residents remained

sceptical towards climate change, simply because believing it would make it real. A future

challenge respondents were worried about is the risk of having to resettle in the future. They

are afraid that this will affect their community, their Kiribati identity, and that it would mean

the loss of the simple life. For example, the idea exists that in other countries people will not

smile on you on the street and that the only family you will have is your core family. Many

people also never had to find a job and this is something that scares them as well. I conclude

that landscape is a part of every aspect of life in Kiribati. Therefore it is strongly connected to

the sense of identity of Kiribati islanders and many fear what will happen in the case of a

radical landscape change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , p. 86
Keywords [en]
Landscape, Identity, Climate Change, Kiribati, Migration
National Category
History and Archaeology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-323811OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-323811DiVA, id: diva2:1112545
Educational program
Master Programme in Global Environmental History
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2017-06-20 Created: 2017-06-20 Last updated: 2017-06-20Bibliographically approved

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