The Bicycle and the Arctic – Perspectives on sustainable transport and infrastructure

Lead Author Alexander, Meitz
Institution Contact Department of Social- and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna/ Austria T: 0043 1 4277 49523 C402 NIG, Universitätsstraße 7 1010 Vienna (Austria) APECS Austria
Co-Authors Karoline Ringhofer, Department of Social- and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna/ Austria
Theme Theme 2: Vulnerability of Arctic Societies
Session Name 2.3 Current infrastructural Challenges, extreme weather and natural hazards and the effects on northern communities
Datetime Wed, Sep 14, 2016 11:15 AM - 11:30 AM
Presentation Type Oral
Abstract text Concrete modes of adaption and local responses to increasing challenges in the Arctic such as changing weather conditions, thawing permafrost and infrastructural damages are offer-ing informative strategies towards resilience in the times of uncertainty. Moreover it seem indispensable to us to have profound theoretical knowledge of the concepts and keywords underlying current discussions.

(1) Alaska, a US-State where half of its population lives in ‘urban’ areas, faces far-reaching demographic changes, as thawing permafrost forces remote communities and residents from suburban areas to move to urban centers. At the same time Alaska faces considerable migratory movements from Southern regions. In our research we focus on sustainable transport and the infrastructure connected to it. Alternative transport modes to cars and other motorized, petrol powered vehicles are gaining in importance as crucial adaptive re-sponses to infrastructural risks in the face of uncertainty. In this context, bicycling is identi-fied as a local practice in reacting to increasing infrastructural disruptions and offers a key strategy towards resilience in the times of global warming and its associated challenges. An increasing number of Arctic urban communities affected by exacerbated weather condition respond to these new challenges according to their social capital and start to create their identities and lifestyles around the bicycle. We are particularly interested in the question of if and how climate change can lead to unprecedented opportunities to establish new infra-structures.
(2) In the second part we will examine the theoretical and conceptual embedding of the re-search results into inter-disciplinary sustainability research, highlighting in particular the relationship of the concepts of sustainability and resilience with regard to their respective epistemological and theoretical position within the framework of philosophy of science, as well as their potential to foster concrete solution approaches in the face of pressing envi-ronmental challenges in the North.
 Download to your calendar