Book Chapters, Monographs

In Governance of Risk, Hazards and Disasters: Trends in Theory and Practice (2018)

The disaster chronotope: Spatial and temporal learning in governance of extreme events (Blair, Hum and Lovecraft)

Risk Society on the Last Frontier: Indigenous Knowledge and the Politics of Risk in Oil Resource Management at Alaska’s North Slope

“This thesis assesses the role of modern environmental risks and their institutionalized management in the subpolitics of North Slope stakeholder groups. It draws primarily on the concepts developed by Ulrich Beck and the literature that has grown out of his Risk Society thesis. The purpose of this research is to determine whether the current designs for knowledge production and management inside Alaska’s oil management regime are inclusive of the indigenous knowledge (IK) of North Slope residents during the mediation of environmental risks, and whether the extent of inclusion is in proportion with the risk exposures of these communities. The premise of the thesis is that Alaska’s oil politics is influenced by risk society conditions, and inclusion of North Slope residents’ IK in environmental risk mediation has failed to match the scope of risks imposed upon local communities by negative externalities of oil development policies. Consequently, this trend has resulted in a technocratic hegemony of administrative agencies over risk definitions and disputes over the legitimacy of expert risk-decisions. The thesis is supported by an extensive literature on the politics of science and risk, an examination of the public process at state agencies, and a qualitative analysis of knowledge management initiatives both at the state and at the subpolitical level. The findings of this study support the idea that a new knowledge management model for risk mediation is needed to effectively include indigenous stakeholders’ cultural rationalities on the acceptability of risks

Toward Arctic Transitions and Sustainability: Modeling Risks and Resilience Across Scales of Governance

The Arctic region has been the subject of international attention in recent years. The magnitude of impacts from global climate change, land-use change, and speculations about economic development and accessible polar shipping lanes have intensified this focus. As a result, the potential to manage complex ecological, social and political relationships in the context of changes, risks and opportunities is the focus of a large and growing body of research. This dissertation contributes to the expanding scholarship on managing arctic social-ecological systems for resilience by answering the question: What
conditions improve cross-scale learning and resilience in nested social-ecological systems experiencing rapid changes? Using the framework of social-ecological systems and the drivers of change that can transform fundamental relationships within, three studies profile the spatial and temporal dimensions of learning and risk perceptions that impact nested social systems. The first study presents a spatial and temporal analysis of scale- and level-specific processes that impact learning from risks. It draws on four cases to underscore the need for a plurality of risk assumptions in learning for resilience, and sums up essential resources needed to support key decision points for increasing resilience. Two additional
studies present research conducted with northern Alaska communities and resource managers. In these studies, I analyzed the extent to which perceptions of risks scale horizontally (between same-level jurisdictions), and vertically (between levels in a dominant jurisdictional structure). These examples illustrate the need for innovative institutions to enhance cross-scale learning, and to balance global drivers of change with local socioeconomic, cultural, and ecological interests. Based on findings of the dissertation research I propose recommendations to optimize the tools and processes of complex
decision making under uncertainty

Berill Blair, researcher

Affiliation: Wageningen University and Research, Environmental Systems Analysis Group

Research interests: Risk, vulnerability, resilience; Social-ecological systems; Cross-sector partnerships; Climate services

Publications, Google Books