Stressed Environments and Communities

Stressed Environments and Communities

In what ways are environments and communities becoming ‘stressed’, and with what consequences? What happens as physical environments worldwide become damaged or otherwise disrupted, and judged more or less habitable; or when the social institutions that ordinarily support social reproduction, such as employment or the social welfare apparatus, deteriorate creating human communities whose life-worlds are so impacted, materially and affectively, that new places to live must be found? What results as stresses, feelings of moral responsibility and dis-ease, are transmitted into the life-worlds of others elsewhere? How are dramatic changes in global political ecologies, economies and climates being experienced by local communities comprised of humans and other living beings? What kinds of adaptive recombining allow for what is broken to be remade?


A developing strand of HGRG research examines how environments and communities become ‘stressed’, and with what emotional, ecological and planetary consequences. Communities resident in the compromised landscapes and contaminated environments (variously toxic, depleted or irradiated) now commonly associated with ‘the Anthropocene’ continue to have their life-worlds impacted materially and affectively. In cities and countrysides, everyday lives and ordinary expectations are being significantly impacted by anomalous (extreme) weather events, disrupted seasonality and climate variability. New environmental pressures experienced worldwide are producing unexpected multispecies entanglements and conditions for life-threatening trans-species infections. We are concerned not only with contemporary threats posed to skies and seas, infrastructures and architectures, land and life (as well as their historical geographies and multi-scalar interpretation) but with how a shared burden of responsibility can produce socio-spatial conditions for coping, caring and campaigning. We seek to understand how anticipations of future stresses feed into modes of environmental governance variously prioritising insecurity and risk-calculation, resilience and renewal, therapy and well-being. We consider research an effective means to lobby for greater climate justice and to foster creative environmental solidarities, realised locally and globally, thereby achieving meaningful impact. Our distinctively geographical approach taken to the study of these stresses is, at the same time, committed to collaborative and interdisciplinary inquiries, learning from emergent alliances in the environmental and medical humanities, environmental activism, and biomedical science.