HRAF Research on Climate-Related Disasters and Culture

Members of the research team for the new NSF grant (front row from left: Peter Peregrine, Carol Ember, Eric Jones and Ian Skoggard; back row: Michele Gelfand, Ben Felzer, and Teferi Abate Adem)

In early October, Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) launched its Advanced Research Center with a 4-year interdisciplinary grant from the National Science Foundation to study the impact of climate-related disasters on culture. Researchers from HRAF and other institutions met for three days to discuss the interdisciplinary project.

Carol Ember, HRAF’s President and the principal investigator explained: “A major premise of the research is that climate-related disasters are not new and therefore it is imperative to understand how human societies in the past adapted to unpredictable environments. We expect to find that societies living in more unpredictable environments will have arrived at some common solutions, such as wider social networks, more diversification and more cooperation, as compared with societies living in more predictable environments.”

She added, “With our interdisciplinary team, we will be comparing ethnographically-described societies, archaeological traditions going back 15,000 years to the recent past, and contemporary countries. We are looking at a lot of different cultural domains, so we will use eHRAF World Cultures and eHRAF Archaeology to speed up finding the information we need.”

The research team (pictured above) includes cultural anthropologists, a cross-cultural psychologist, an archaeologist, and a climatologist. HRAF is located in New Haven, CT and is a non-profit membership organization at Yale University.

Click here for more information about the grant.