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Title: Mobility in context : exploring the impact of environmental stress on mobility decisions in northern Ethiopia
Author: Morrissey, James
ISNI:       0000 0004 2743 8344
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis examines the relationship between environmental stress and human mobility with a view to understanding the impacts of climate change on human migration. Using a conjuncture of political ecology and migration theory, it firstly explores the literature on 'environmental refugees' identifying a distinction between general agreement on the existence of a relationship between environmental stress and migration, and debate over the appropriateness of the 'environmental refugee' as a suitable means for representing that relationship. Secondly this conjuncture is used to examine accounts from farmers and migrants in northern Ethiopia, with a focus on understanding how environmental and non-environmental factors interact to shape mobility decisions in a context of environmental stresses, thought analogous to those predicted to accompany future climate change. The principal finding of the study is that although environmental stress matters in mobility decisions, it does so due to the context of non-environmental factors in which it occurs, not in spite of them. With this in mind the work provides a framework of additive, vulnerability, enabling and barrier effects as a means for elaborating our understanding of how environmental and non-environmental factors interact to determine mobility strategies in a context of environmental stress. Focussing on the role of non-environmental factors, the work reveals that while biophysical features operate at a macro-scale to shape mobility decisions, these decisions are determined by non-environmental features operating at a micro-scale. The research then traces differences in the existence of these micro-scale, non-environmental, factors across two field sites, finding that their origins lie in both historical and contemporary forces of regional and global political economy. As such, the work concludes that understanding the relationship between climate change and human migration will require a contextualisation of that relationship within this broader framework.
Supervisor: Zetter, Roger Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Geography ; Africa ; Environment ; Arid environmental systems ; Environmental change ; Social Sciences ; Anthropology ; Development and Refugees (see also Sociology) ; Agrarian change ; Livelihoods ; Migration ; climate change ; Ethiopia ; drought ; urbanisation