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'Seasons of the Anthropocene': politicisation of the haze season in Southeast Asia

Varkkey, Helena, Liu, Felicia H M., Smith, T. E. L. ORCID: 0000-0001-6022-5314 and Trott, Sophie (2023) 'Seasons of the Anthropocene': politicisation of the haze season in Southeast Asia. Southeast Asia Working Paper Series (9). Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre, LSE, London, UK.

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In the last three decades, a new ‘haze season’ has emerged in Indonesian, Malaysian, and Singaporean societies to signify the recurring air pollution episode caused by the widespread burning of tropical peatlands. This study delves into the discursive framework of ‘seasonality’ surrounding the societal perception and response to haze, exploring ‘haze season’ as an adaptation context and ‘haze’ as a mitigation strategy. Deploying a three-step methodology, this paper identifies and analyses key storylines used by various political actors to attribute meaning to haze, namely (1) ‘it keeps coming back’, (2) ‘it will go away’, and (3) ‘it is normal’. Different political actors deploy these storylines for distinct purposes. The objectives of storyline deployment align mostly between governments and corporations seeking to explain, legitimise, and detract from mitigation inefficiencies and adaptation inadequacies, with civil society organisations being the sole challenges and critique of this patronage network structures, where governments and companies tolerate unsustainable agroforestry practices leading to haze. The study underscores the significance of understanding the politics involved in constructing ‘seasons of the Anthropocene’. Divergent framing of seasonality by different actors reveals the underlying mechanisms influencing environmental change mitigation and adaptation. The construction of Anthropocene seasons can be a double-edged sword, with familiarisation enhancing societal preparedness, while normalisation can lead to desensitisation and inertia towards mitigation. Untangling the divergent pathways of politicising Anthropocene seasonalities holds the key to determining whether and how societies can build a ‘liveable future’. By grasping the dynamics of the ‘haze season’ discourse, we can project effective environmental action and address the challenges posed by recurring haze episodes.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2023 10:24
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2023 00:04

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