Paper: Perception of Residents of Disappearing Lands in the Chesapeake Bay

Paper details

Paper authors Ezekiel Grant
In panel on The challenge of reframing displacement in recent times - The actors and meanings of terms
Paper presenter(s) will be presenting In-Person / Online


How are people whose homes and livelihoods are slated to disappear into the seas in the near future, due in part to climate change, perceiving this threat and responding? This paper examines the perceptions of people of two small islands, with populations under 500, at the forefront of the United States’ coastal flooding problem, Tangier and Smith Islands. Located in the Chesapeake Bay, affected by sea level rise, land subsidence, and erosion, vulnerable to tropical storms and hurricanes, these islands are predicted to become uninhabitable as early as the 2040s and no later than the 2060s. These last offshore islands remain in the Chesapeake where in the 18th century over 30 existed. Residents of these two islands have been offered money to move after evaluation by the US Army Corps of Engineers, but the vast majority has refused. Semi-structured interviews of more than 20 residents have been conducted including factual information on their flooding situation and narrative prompts about recent and past flooding. This work adds to a growing body of evidence showing people resistant to displacement and the conversation surrounding what can and should be done with such communities.



Ezekiel Grant