Anecdotal Anthropocenes: An interdisciplinary investigation into the role of experiential knowledge in sensing wildfires.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Environment, Education and Development


Wildfires are a significant concern across England and Wales, posing a range of social, economic and environmental risks. Alongside endangering millions of lives across an ever-expanding wildland-urban interface, wildfires disrupt critical national infrastructure, stem the provision of crucial resources, threaten the ecological stability of animals and plants, and threaten livelihoods. Climate change threatens to further increase the risk from wildfire
in the coming decades. Extending recent research agendas across both human and physical geography concerning different people's lived experiences within their environments, this PhD project looks to mitigate the socio-ecological risks posed by wildfires and inform national wildfire strategy by documenting and analysing the diverse range of knowledges and sense-making practices used by fire responders, government bodies, landowners, and other stakeholders in the governance of wildfire preparedness and response in England and Wales.

The research will be structured by two overarching research aims:
-Firstly, to understand how these knowledges develop through people's relationship with their environments.
-Secondly, to analyse the role, significance and future potential of different types of knowledge in wildfire governance in England and Wales.

The project will make a major contribution to interdisciplinary academic debates that have gathered pace over the last decade concerning the
urgent need for changes in emergency governance demanded by the disorienting environmental shifts of the Anthropocene. One of the key insights
from this emerging literature concerns how climate-induced emergencies have ushered in a new politics of knowledge production in which the longstanding hegemony of technocratic, managerial and expert understandings of environmental risk are being unsettled by the reassertion of
traditional or practical ways of knowing about environment and risk.

This project extends these urgent academic debates by outlining the forms of knowledge that have risen to prominence, exploring whose knowledge comes to matter and how competing forms of knowledge have developed through different people's relationship with the wider environment.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000665/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2761351 Studentship ES/P000665/1 01/10/2022 30/09/2025 Oliver Bignell