The research project is groundbreaking empirically as well as theoretically; empirically it contributes a substantial ethnographic supplement to the sweeping diagnoses captured in such notions as ‘world risk society' (Beck 1998), ‘runaway world' (Giddens 2000), and even ‘global warming' in itself. What the proposal offers is a fine-grained knowledge of unbounded environmental hazards and their effects on localised social worlds. Theoretically, this focus will allow for a new understanding of the effects of environmental disaster on grounded senses of vulnerability and, not least, of the responsibility that people take locally to ensure the survival of their community in the face of perceived threats to their life-worlds.
The perspective is predominantly anthropological with a component of human geography as well as eskimology. The focus on water-related environmental risks as experienced in different regions of the world allows for a comparative perspective yielding general theoretical innovation. The knowledge thus gained may contribute to new policies of redress that the global diagnoses cannot by themselves bring about. What is more, it may open up for new interdisciplinary cooperation, by contributing to an explication of the complexities of scale inherent in different conceptual worlds and by suggesting new and more integrative forms of knowledge.