Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Second Department

International/Intercultural Studies

Reader 1

Joe Parker

Reader 2

Susan Phillips

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Rights Information

© 2017 Rachel H Spiegel


The threat of global climate change increasingly influences the actions of human society. As world leaders have negotiated adaptation strategies over the past couple of decades, a certain discourse has emerged that privileges Western conceptions of environmental degradation. I argue that this framing of climate change inhibits the successful implementation of adaptation strategies. This thesis focuses on a case study of the Maldives, an island nation deemed one of the most vulnerable locations to the impacts of rising sea levels. I apply a postcolonial theoretical framework to examine how differing knowledge systems can both complement and contradict one another. By analyzing government-enforced relocation policies in the Maldives, I find that points of contradiction between Western and indigenous environmental epistemologies can create opportunities to bridge the gap between isolated viewpoints and serve as moments to resist the dominant climate change discourse.