Conflicting narratives of extreme weather events in Durban, South Africa: Politically opportunistic, experiential, and climate-justice epistemologies

Patrick Bond, Mary Galvin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

On 11 April 2022, more than 350 mm of rain fell in Durban in only 24 hours. Hundreds of people were killed or are (still in early 2023) missing, mainly in landslides and floods after rivers broke their banks and washed away shacks. To address the overlapping crises of climate injustice experienced that day, a new theory of knowledge is emerging. Three epistemologies continue to develop through praxis in relation to climate change: solidaristic disaster relief appeals, service delivery failure critiques, and climate adaptation and mitigation failure critiques. This chapter begins by noting how President Cyril Ramaphosa explicitly blamed climate change for the flood but did so for apparently opportunistic reasons. We term this the state's epistemological approach to creating a diversion narrative. We then describe the response and narratives of different groupings of civil society strategists and grassroots activists. We show how their epistemologies can either remain isolated as alternatives, be pursued in tandem, or move towards what we consider a desirable synthesis. We conclude by posing questions about the roots of these approaches in reinforcing a neo-liberal approach or mounting challenges to capitalism. The chapter is based on our analysis of more than 100 news articles and our individual experience as action researchers and activist academics over the past three decades.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationClimate Change Epistemologies in Southern Africa
Subtitle of host publicationSocial and Cultural Dimensions
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Pages95-126
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9781000902365
ISBN (Print)9781032018522
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science

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