Thinking Like a Climate

Governing a City in Times of Environmental Change

Book Pages: 328 Illustrations: 15 illustrations Published: October 2020

Author: Hannah Knox

Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Geography

In Thinking Like a Climate Hannah Knox confronts the challenges that climate change poses to knowledge production and modern politics. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork among policy makers, politicians, activists, scholars, and the public in Manchester, England—birthplace of the Industrial Revolution—Knox explores the city's strategies for understanding and responding to deteriorating environmental conditions. Climate science, Knox argues, frames climate change as a very particular kind of social problem that confronts the limits of administrative and bureaucratic techniques of knowing people, places, and things. Exceeding these limits requires forging new modes of relating to climate in ways that reimagine the social in climatological terms. Knox contends that the day-to-day work of crafting and implementing climate policy and translating climate knowledge into the work of governance demonstrates that local responses to climate change can be scaled up to effect change on a global scale.


“What makes climate change mitigation so challenging, even for activists and municipal officials committed to the project? Working with planners, experts, and citizens seeking to redress the most pernicious impacts of climate change in Manchester, Hannah Knox has produced the most stunning and thought-provoking ethnographic account of climate change that I have read. She urges us to consider climate change as a ‘form of thought’—a pattern produced when spreadsheets, green moralities, technologies, and modes of calculation interact. These interactions, she argues, not only remake what climate means, or what counts as climate action: they demand nothing less than a revolutionary transformation of our understandings of humanity and responsibility in the contemporary moment.” — Nikhil Anand, author of Hydraulic City: Water and the Infrastructures of Citizenship in Mumbai

“We know that industrial activity is altering our planet's atmosphere, and that we need to act fast to mitigate it. But what should we do, exactly? Through her careful and inventive exploration of climate change activism in Manchester, anthropologist Hannah Knox provides pathways to answering this vital yet difficult question. Her stellar ethnography demonstrates that we will learn how to ‘think like a climate,’ building connections rather than boundaries.” — Gökçe Günel, author of Spaceship in the Desert: Energy, Climate Change, and Urban Design in Abu Dhabi


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Price: $27.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Hannah Knox is Associate Professor of Anthropology at University College London, coauthor of Roads: An Anthropology of Infrastructure and Expertise, and coeditor of Ethnography for a Data-Saturated World and Objects and Materials: A Routledge Companion.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Abbreviations  ix
Preface and Acknowledgments  xi
Introduction. Matter, Politics, and Climate Change  1
Part I. Contact Zones
Climate Change in Manchester: An Origin Story  35
1. 41% and the Problem of Proportion  40
How the Climate Takes Shape  63
2. The Carbon Life of Buildings  67
Footprints and Traces, or Learning to Think Like a Climate  89
3. Footprints, Objects, and the Endlessness of Relations  95
When Global Climate Meets Local Nature(s)  122
4. An Irrelevant Apocalypse: Futures, Models, and Scenarios  127
Cities, Mayors, and Climate Change  156
5. Stuck in Strategies  159
Part II. Rematerializing Politics
6. Test Houses and Vernacular Engineers  179
7. Activist Devices and the Art of Politics  205
8. Symptoms, Diagnoses, and the Politics of the Hack  234
Conclusion. "Going Native" in the Anthropocene  259
Notes  273
References  285
Index  305
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1086-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0981-8