3 September 2021

Misreading the Bengal Delta

Climate change is one of the key challenges of our time and large amounts of development aid are allocated towards adaptation in the Global South. Yet, to what extent do such projects address local needs and concerns?

In this episode, Kenneth Bo Nielsen is joined by Camelia Dewan to discuss her latest book: Misreading the Bengal Delta: Climate Change, Development, and Livelihoods in Coastal Bangladesh (University of Washington Press, 2021), and her fieldwork experience in Bangladesh. Vulnerable to floods, erosion and cyclones, Bangladesh is one of the top recipients of development aid earmarked for climate change adaptation. Both an ethnography of Bangladeshi development professionals and rural people in the coastal zone, “Misreading the Bengal Delta” critiques development narratives of Bangladesh as a "climate change victim". Dewan examines how development actors repackage colonial-era modernizing projects, which have caused severe environmental effects, as climate-adaptation solutions.

Camelia Dewan is an environmental anthropologist focusing on the anthropology of development. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo.