Climate Change Migration and the Political Management of Risk

A/Prof. Elizabeth Stanley1
1Victoria University Of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

In recent times, populist narratives of the risks posed by ‘non-citizens’ have led to extreme political antagonism to those deemed ‘unknowable’, ‘undesirable’ or ‘illegal’. Subsequent measures to exclude or control ‘non-citizens’ regularly engage systemic violations of human rights. This presentation reflects on the situation of climate change migrants in relation to this heavily politicized narrative of risk. While illustrating how the risks of climate change are inequitably caused and distributed, it focuses on how New Zealand, in particular, has sought to manage, emphasise and police the ‘risks’ from climate change migrants.


Elizabeth Stanley is a Reader and Rutherford Discovery Fellow at the Institute of Criminology, Victoria University of Wellington. Her research focuses on state crimes, human rights, detention and social justice.

Her publications include ‘Torture, Truth and Justice’, ‘State Crime and Resistance’ (with Jude McCulloch), ‘The Road to Hell: State Violence against Children in Post War NZ’ and ‘Human Rights and Incarceration’ (edited collection published Sep 2018, by Palgrave).



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