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India's Temporal Imaginaries of Climate Change, 1988-2018
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The advent of climate change promises extreme disruptions to existing concepts of political time, namely the distinction between the modes of time adopted by modern nation-states, natural time, and the everyday life of human beings. Yet the nation-state remains the primary actor through which climate politics is shaped. India is one the most prominent actors in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and also likely to be one of the most climate-affected societies moving forward. Over the 30-year history of India's engagement at the UNFCCC, there has been a shift from constructing a secular, past-oriented imaginary to a sacred, future-oriented one. The state has fostered these temporal imaginaries through three discursive registers: international politics, climate science, and conservative Hindu ideology. These imaginaries act as a heuristic tool with which to analyze the changing dynamics of political temporality in an era of rapid and extreme climate change.
General Audience Abstract
Climate change challenges fundamental notion of political time, the temporal relationship that embeds actors and processes. Yet this topic is underanalyzed in academic literature, especially when it comes to non-Western states. India has been one of the most prominent actors at the United Nations climate negotiations and also likely to be heavily affected by extreme climate shifts. Over the 30-year history of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Indian government has framed the temporality of climate change in two ways. First, from 1988-2004, it constructed and followed a secular, past-oriented imaginary of climate change. Beginning in 2005, and accelerating with the election of Prime Minister Modi in 2014, the government has begun to construct and follow a sacred, future-oriented imaginary. In this way, the State has moved from rhetorically framing climate change as a significant problem to an opportunity that can be met if India and other societies follow conservative Hindu precepts.
- Doctoral Dissertations