The Disappearing Island: The Effect of Imminent Displacement on Social Exchange Relations on Tangier Island (WGF - Dissertation Fieldwork Grant)

Part of the Wenner-Gren Foundation Grant Application Collection Metadata (DRAFT) project

Author(s): Jonna Yarrington

Year: 2018


This resource is an application for the Dissertation Fieldwork Grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation.

Tangier Island is a small, incorporated town, just over one square mile, of 470 inhabitants in the Chesapeake Bay, belonging to Accomack County, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, USA. Its residents are densely related watermen and their families--mostly white, lower income, politically conservative, Christian, and skeptical of science and climate change. Endogamous marriage is preferred, resulting in residents who are kin in multiple ways to each other, while also holding individuated roles that are defined by occupation, gender, and other modes of differentiation. Their island, a series of three sandy ridges, is sinking, with scientists predicting it will be uninhabitable in 25-50 years, due to anthropogenic sea-level rise. This project asks: what is the effect of impending displacement on concepts of property and relatedness for Tangier islanders? What happens to inheritance, role succession, and local hierarchy in the face of imminent displacement? The project is comparative. Data will be gathered on historic (1900-2010) and contemporary (2010-present) relations, roles, and exchange practices, and on emic concepts of nature, time, and displacement, via a 13-month period of archival work and fieldwork, including interviewing, genealogical and oral history elicitation, and participant-observation, in four phases. The project seeks to fill a gap in anthropology's understanding the socio-cultural effects of climate change, including for populations that contest scientific epistemologies, and seeks to contribute to social science on recognition of interests, concomitant injuries of class, and socially stratified outcomes of imminent displacement.

Cite this Record

The Disappearing Island: The Effect of Imminent Displacement on Social Exchange Relations on Tangier Island (WGF - Dissertation Fieldwork Grant). Jonna Yarrington. 2018 ( tDAR id: 468756) ; doi:10.48512/XCV8468756

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -76.035; min lat: 37.778 ; max long: -75.936; max lat: 37.88 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Wenner-Gren Foundation


Rights & Attribution: This resource is an application from the Wenner-Gren Foundation and has been approved by the grantee solely for pedagogical purposes. Please do not cite, circulate, or duplicate any part of these documents without the express written consent of the author.

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