Vulnerability, Adaptation, and Maladaptation to Climate Change

The IOWC podcast team interviews Dr. Lisa Schipper (University of Oxford) an Environmental Social Science Research Fellow at the Environmental Change Institute (ECI). Dr. Schipper’s research explores the interlinkages between climate change and human development, as she seeks to address the question of whether fair and just development is possible in a changing climate.

Our discussion covers Dr. Schipper’s exploration of vulnerabilities to climate change that exist in communities in the developing world. She argues that socio-cultural dimensions of vulnerability –such as gender, culture, religion, etc. – relate to structural inequalities of power, justice and equity; ultimately leading to mosaics of different levels of climate change vulnerability within each stand-alone community. Dr. Schipper delves into how the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic, social, and political impacts have increased vulnerabilities throughout the developing world, as well as how downfalls of short-term climate change adaptation strategies, and maladaptation to climate change, have only emphasized existing vulnerabilities within specific communities. Moreover, as a current coordinating lead author of Chapter 18 of the Working Group 2 Contribution to the 6th assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Dr. Schipper delves into the problematic attitude of prioritizing scientific and quantitative data over qualitative data of the human experience in climate change reporting. She warns of the simplification and misunderstandings that are frequently engendered by focusing solely on the numeric values of climate change instead of truly fleshing out the complexities that exist among human beings experiencing vulnerability to climate change. Finally, Dr. Schipper touches on the effects of the frequent exclusion of female voices and voices from the global south, particularly in African countries, from the academic echo chamber. She argues that this form of gatekeeping excludes different perspectives, and perhaps solutions, to the rapidly changing climate.

Lisa’s bio page:
Include the CarbonBrief piece:
Twitter handle (to be included): @schipper_lisa

Arch, Coastal Shipping of Tokugawa Japan

Professor Jakobina Arch (Whitman College) discusses her research into coastal shipping of Tokugawa Japan (17th century -19th century), and accounts of shipwrecks’ survivors as insights on the religious world of sailors. Unraveling how Western and Meiji sources have spoken disparagingly of the designs of the ‘bezaisen’ or coastal ships of the Tokugawa period, Arch proffers compelling evidence to point out the construction of the ‘bezaisen’ stemmed from specific environmental exigencies — they were designed to easily navigate the shallow waters near the coast of Japan. Far from being an unchanging maritime vessel, Arch argues the ‘bezaisen’ underwent significant innovations during the Tokugawa period, responding to market forces and adapting to better understandings of the coastal environment of Japan. Delving into surviving oral narratives of sailors cast away by shipwrecks, Arch also highlights how the religious world of Japanese sailors caught in storms and/or shipwrecks drew upon a medley of Buddhist and Shinto religious practices to interact with the oceanic and terrestrial environments of Japan. She concludes that accounts of shipwrecks’ survivors also form an alternative archive to researching weather and climatic patterns around the Sea of Japan in the early modern period.
For more on Prof. Arch’s publications, see her academic bio:
Cover Image: Photo showing a bezaisen at anchor with the rudder lifted up through the opening in the transom on the left: View of boats, Japan. Albumen silver print by Ueno Hikoma, c. 1860s.
See also: A woodblock print of the bigger bezaisen cargo ships anchored in an Edo harbor (on the center right), with smaller, shallower-draft cargo ships sailing closer in (center) and a rowboat with what looks like yellow rice bales from the cargo ships headed into the warehouses beyond the bridge (slightly to the right of center in front of the sailing ships) Toto meisho: Eitai-bashi Fukugawa Shinchi, Woodblock print by Hiroshige, c 1818-1858.

Jalais, Tigers, Tiger Food, and Mental Health in the Sundarbans

In our latest episode of the Indian Ocean World Podcast, Prof. Annu Jalais, an anthropologist and an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore, talks about the Sundarbans, the largest delta in the world that sprawls across India and Bangladesh along the Bay of Bengal. The Sundarbans supports a unique biodiverse environment of mangroves, tigers, crocodiles, snakes, and humans. Prof. Jalais tells us how she developed an interest in the region as a high school student; why it’s imperative for any researcher to understand the forests and its tigers before writing historical and anthropological studies of the Sundarbans; and how the relationship between humans and nonhumans, especially tigers, have highlighted the narratives of development and politics around it in the Sundarbans. Prof. Jalais also discusses a serious impact of climate change in the Sundarbans: disaster fatigue resulting from ever shifting river embankments that change the contours of forested and inhabited lands, regular cyclones, and close encounters with nonhumans (tigers, crocodiles, and snakes) that often have a telling effect on the mental health of the inhabitants of the Sundarbans.
Bio page:

Our “Southern Collective” website on the northern Indian Ocean:
Map of the Sundarbans region (it keeps changing so download it from here):
Image: Wikicommons – Sundarban Tiger []

Goldstein, Indonesia’s Peatlands and Environmental Politics

In this podcast, the IOWC interviews Professor Jenny Goldstein of Cornell University on her research into Indonesia’s peat lands. Her interview offers a discussion of her unique journey from architecture to geography, and an in-depth explanation of how the Indonesian peat lands became her subject of study. She further explores the value of so-called degraded lands from a biodiversity and regenerative standpoint, exploring diverse techniques of rice growth in Peatland environments. Moreover, Professor Goldstein offers a nuanced understanding of how the development of oil palm plantations on Indonesia’s peat lands has had multiple effects, including production of divergent scientific knowledge on whether oil palm plantations across Indonesia’s peat lands lead to more carbon emissions or not, how these debates shape legislations concerning agriculture and forests in Indonesia, and what could be the climatic impact of such policies eventually.

Relevant Links:

Links to relevant publications:

This podcast was produced with the help of Renée Manderville (Project Manager, IOWC), Archisman Chaudhuri and Philip Gooding (both postdoctoral fellows, IOWC, McGill).

Image: Patrice Levang. Smoldering peat soil in rice paddy, Central Kalimantan, late 1997. 

Schottenhammer, Maritime Disasters, Risk Appraisals, and exchanges of Medicinal Knowledge in maritime East Asia

Prof. Angela Schottenhammer (KU Leuven) discusses her and her team’s ongoing research into maritime disasters, risk appraisals, and exchanges of medicinal knowledge in East Asian Waters in c.1500-1800. Several themes are discussed, which transcend the disciplines of climate history, maritime archaeology, and medical history. She refers to typhoons, currents, diseases, and the material cultures of medical practitioners, referring to both East Asian and European sources.

Prof. Schottenhammer and her team are furthermore working on a video called, ‘Piracy in Historical Asia.’ It will be published here, where you can also find out more details now.

Prof. Schottenhammer has additionally published (and continues to publish) widely. More details can be found at; and Additionally, some of her most important recent and forthcoming publications include:

Angela Schottenhammer (ed.), Early Global Interconnectivity Across the Indian Ocean World, 2 vols (Cham, CH: Palgrave, 2019): vol. I, Commercial Structures and Exchanges; vol. II, Exchange of Ideas, Religions, and Technologies.

Robert Antony and Angela Schottenhammer (eds.), Beyond the Silk Roads: New Discourses on China’s Role in East Asian Maritime History (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 2017) 

Wim De Winter, Angela Schottenhammer, Mathieu Torck (eds.), Seafaring, Trade, and Knowledge Transfer:  Maritime Politics and Commerce in Early Middle Period to Early Modern China [CROS Crossroads – History of Interactions across the Silk Routes] (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2021), forthcoming.

Angela Schottenhammer, “‘Peruvian Balsam’: An Example of Transoceanic Transfer of Medicinal Knowledge’, Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 16:69 (2020), 1-20.

 Angela Schottenhammer, Major ‘International’ Currencies of China and Japan: The Use of Copper Coins, Silver Ingots and Paper Money”, in Steven Serel, Gwyn Campbell (eds.), Currencies of the Indian Ocean World (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), 17-48.

Angela Schottenhammer, “Die zunehmende Einbindung Chinas in die Welt des Indischen Ozeans bis zum Beginn der Song-Dynastie: Seewege, Verbindungen und Handel”, in Raimund Schulz (Hrsg.), Maritime Entdeckung und Expansion. Kontinuitäten, Parallelen und Brüche von der Antike bis in die Neuzeit, Sonderband der Historischen Zeitschrift (Oldenburg: De Gruyter Verlag, 2019), 139-173.

Angela Schottenhammer, “16-18 seiki ni okeru taiheiyō o matagu suigin no mitsu bōeki” アンゲラショッテンハマー著、「1618世紀における太平洋を跨ぐ水銀の密貿易」, transl. by Hideaki Suzuki 鈴木英明, in Hideaki Suzuki 鈴木英明編訳 (ed.) Nettowaku to kaiiki: Higashi Ajia kara yūbō suru sekaishi 『ネットワークと海域東アジアから眺望する世界史』(Akashi shoten, 2019), 230-264.

Angela Schottenhammer, “China’s Rise and Retreat as a Maritime Power”, in Robert Antony, Angela Schottenhammer (eds.), New Discourses on China’s Role in East Asian Maritime History (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 2017), 189-211.

Angela Schottenhammer, Consolidating Southeast Asia and the Meaning of Force in History: Pax Ming and the Case of Chen Zuyi 陳祖義 (d. 1407)”, China and Asia: A Journal of Historical Studies (2021), forthcoming.

 Angela Schottenhammer, Mathieu Torck, Wim De Winter, “Surgeons and Physicians on the Move in the Asian Waters (15th to 18th Centuries)”, Haiyangshi yanjiu 海洋史研究 (2021), in press.

 Angela Schottenhammer, Maritime Disasters and Risk Appraisals in the East Asian Waters”, Études thématiques (2021), forthcoming.

 Angela Schottenhammer, “Some Remarks on the Use and Provision of Camphor in Early Modern China and in Spanish Asian and American Colonies”, in Festschrift for Paul David Buell, ed. by Timothy May (2021), forthcoming.

 Angela Schottenhammer, “Insights into Global Maritime Trade Around 1600”, in Festschrift for Ranabir Chakravarti, ed. By Suchandra Gosh et al. (Bloomsbury: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2021), forthcoming.

Xu Zhexin, Tang-Song transition era maritime activities in E and SE Asia

With the help of Dr. Alexander Jost, Xu Zhexin (both University of Salzburg) discusses his PhD research into the history of maritime activities in South and Southeast China and its neighboring regions during the co-called Tang-Song transition period, which is based on his analysis of official records, inscription sources, and visual materials. Thank you also to Prof. Angela Schottenhammer (KU Leuven) for facilitating this interview.

For more on Prof. Schottenhammer’s work and Xu Zhexin’s place in it, see:

Winterbottom, ‘Becoming Traditional’: A transnational history of neem and biopiracy discourses

Dr. Anna Winterbottom (McGill) discusses with Renee Manderville, Archisman Chaudhuri, and Philip Gooding her forthcoming journal article, ‘”Becoming traditional”: A transnational history of neem and biopiracy discourses,’ which is due to be published in 2021 in Osiris. The article is part of a special issue entitled ‘Global medical cultures, properties and laws,’ and explores the shifting uses and cultural meanings of neem, a tree of the mahogany family native to South and Southeast Asia, over time and space. Specifically, the article and the podcast discussion examine how neem became associated with the idea of ‘traditional’ Indian medicine as Western medical companies sought patents on neem derivatives in the 1990s.

For more on the special issue from which the article is taken, see:

For more on Dr. Winterbottom’s work, see her IOWC profile.

Also, please check out Dr. Winterbottom’s seminal monograph, Hybrid Knowledge in the early East India Company world (London: Palgrave 2016).

Chaiklin and Gooding, Animal Trade Histories in the Indian Ocean World

Martha Chaiklin and Philip Gooding discuss with Archisman Chaudhuri their recently published edited volume, Animal Trade Histories in the Indian Ocean World (Cham, CH: Palgrave, 2020). As part of their discussion, they explore themes including, animals in world history, animals’ relationships to climate change and the anthropocene/capitalocene debate, methodologies for studying animal histories, and cultural symbolisms of animals resulting from trade.

The book is available in ebook and hardcover format.

Warren – Colonial Monocrops and Global Climatic Oscillations in the Philippines

With the help of Renee Manderville, Archisman Chaudhuri, and Philip Gooding (all IOWC), Prof. James Warren (Murdoch University) discusses his past and ongoing research into the effects of global climatic oscillations on the history of the Philippines. In this podcast episode, he examines the role of ENSO-related climatic anomalies and typhoons on the colonial monocrops of tobacco (Spanish era) and sugar (American era). In these contexts, he also responds to questions on the lives of indigenous populations and on colonial science.

For more on Prof. Warren’s work, see: and,_James.html

Prof. Warren has also provided us with some images that may be of interest and use to listeners:

Map: The Philippines

Map: Sulu and Celebes Seas

Map: Iranun Balangingi raiding

Map: Typhoons in the western Pacific Ocean

Common Typhoon Paths

“Eye of the storm”

Flattened canefields, 1899

Barocyclonometer (1)

Barocyclonometer (2)

Jose Algue (1856-1930), Jesuit meteorologist