Resisting the present, reclaiming the past and reshaping the future: Can data science help Polynesian Islands become more resilient to climate change adverse effects?

Charlotte Cabasse

Berkeley Institute for Data Science, UC Berkeley, USA

Recent researches have shown that, while resilience has been an efficient performative concept in many disasters management projects, the “back to normal” paradigm on which it relies does not offer a useful framework to think about local population’s claims for social change. For the pacific islands facing climate change adverse effects – including but not limited to sea level rise and important degradation of their environment biodiversity – the common understanding of resilience also fail to address the non reversible “loss and damages” defined in 2013 by the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damages and the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Based on an anthropological research among scientists and local communities developing a data science infrastructure to facilitate ecological and cultural preservation in French Polynesia, this paper focuses on the Island Digital Ecosystem Avatars (IDEA) consortium, which provides an exemplary case study of the complex nature of technological and scientific infrastructure association, community organization and institutional setup embedded in climate change mitigation.

“Islands are much more than a writer’s inspiration, a scientist’s laboratory, a metaphor. They are home to islanders, who are both the same as … yet different from everyone else” (Unesco, 2007). Taking seriously the importance of diverse epistemologies involved in the assemblages described above, we will show how data science infrastructures contribute to make visible the hybridation of knowledge between western science and the Polynesian culture. Reflecting of these processes of hybridizations and associations, the paper finally argues that resilience might not be a one fit all concept but can only be applied in specific contexts/situations and should be thought in association with the concept of attention developed by researchers of the Actor Network Theory (ANT).

1. Kohta Juraku
2. Sungeun Kim