Christian Espinosa Schatz
I am a doctoral candidate in Yale’s combined degree in Anthropology and Environmental Studies. I have a long-standing interest in climate change as an issue of justice, knowledge, and power. My research engages with the fields of environmental anthropology, agroecology, human geography, and science and technology studies to understand how climate change intersects with the local environmental relations of marginalized peoples.
My dissertation project focuses on the relationship between climate change, migration, and local livelihoods in the Mam Mayan agrarian communities of Guatemala’s western highlands. This project studies how the risks and uncertainties of U.S.-bound migration are increasingly intertwined with Mayan land-use practices and how, in turn, Mayan land-use practices are affected by climate change. I argue that climate change is not a linear force “pushing” the Central American poor to migrate, but one part of a cybernetic web of human, non-human, local and trans-local actors present in the act of migration, including indigenous “coyotes” or migrant smugglers, U.S. detention centers, Mayan-Evangelical prayer rituals, and stands of alder trees (Alnus firmifolia) cultivated for firewood. This approach, inspired by decolonial methodologies within anthropology and indigenous studies, highlights the agency of the Mam Mayan people by asking how migration and agriculture enable their response to climate change.
I am a first generation college student from Southern California, and welcome questions from other first generation students considering a PhD.