Publication Details

Stratford, E., Farbotko, C. & Lazrus, H. (2013). Tuvalu, sovereignty and climate change: considering fenua, the archipelago and emigration. Island Studies Journal, 8 (1), 67-83.


Tuvalu is a Pacific atoll nation-state that has come to stand for predicaments implicating climate change, forced emigration and resettlement, and loss of territory and sovereignty. Legal and policy remedies seek to address such challenges by radically reframing how sovereignty is conceived. Drawing on literary and legal theory, we seek to extend such work in the terms of cultural geography and anthropology by considering how the archipelago and cultural practices known as fenua could be deployed as symbolic and material resources emphasizing mobility and connection, in contrast to normative ideas of sovereignty, whose orientation to territory imperils atoll states. Our fundamental argument is that legal and policy reforms addressing climate change emigration must be enriched by accounting for the emotional geographies that attend the changing real and conceptual borders of sovereignty and by creating alternative spaces of hope and action.