In the global imaginary of climate change, Bangladesh holds a prominent position. Frequently described as the ‘world’s most vulnerable country to climate change’, the specter of Bangladesh underwater, wiped off the map by rising sea levels, has given birth to a crisis narrative that obscures the ways in which interventions in the environment and social life of the country have already transformed the landscape many times over. _Today_, development in Bangladesh is increasingly defined by and through an adaptation regime, a socially and historically specific configuration of power that governs the landscape of possible intervention in anticipation of climate change. It includes institutions of development, research, media, and science, as well as various state actors both nationally and internationally. The adaptation regime operates through the material and epistemic processes of imagination, experimentation, and dispossession. It is built on a vision of development in which urbanization and export-led growth are both desirable and inevitable. For the rural poor, this entails dispossession from agrarian livelihoods and outmigration. As this shift contributes to the expansion of production of export commodities such as garments and frozen shrimp, the threat of climate change and its associated migrations is reframed as an opportunity for development and growth. This presentation will draw on over two years of multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork to explore how this adaptation regime is produced, experienced, and contested by a variety of actors from rural Bangladesh, to Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, to global institutions of development and knowledge production.


Kasia Paprocki is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her work draws on and contributes to the study of the political economy of development and agrarian change, with a focus in South Asia. She is the author of Threatening Dystopias: The Global Politics of Climate Change Adaptation in Bangladesh, which will be published by Cornell University Press in December 2021.