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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Power in resilience and resilience's power in climate change scholarship

Garcia, Alicea; Gonda, Noemi; Atkins, Ed; Godden, Naomi Joy; Henrique, Karen Paiva; Parsons, Meg; Tschakert, Petra; Ziervogel, Gina


Resilience thinking has undergone profound theoretical developments in recent decades, moving to characterize resilience as a socio-natural process that requires constant negotiation between a range of actors and institutions. Fundamental to this understanding has been a growing acknowledgment of the role of power in shaping resilience capacities and politics across cultural and geographic contexts.This review article draws on a critical content analysis, applied to a systematic review of recent resilience literature to examine how scholarship has embraced nuanced conceptualizations of how power operates in resilience efforts, to move away from framings that risk reinforcing patterns of marginalization. Advancing a framework inspired by feminist theory and feminist political ecology, we analyze how recent work has presented, documented, and conceptualized how resilience intersects with patterns of inequity. In doing so, we illuminate the importance of knowledge, scale, and subject-making in understanding the complex ways in which power and resilience become interlinked. We illustrate how overlooking such complexity may have serious consequences for how socio-natural challenges and solutions are framed in resilience scholarship and, in turn, how resilience is planned and enacted in practice. Finally, we highlight how recent scholarship is advancing the understandings necessary to make sense of the shifting, contested, and power-laden nature of resilience. Paying attention to, and building on, such complexity will allow scholarly work to illuminate the ways in which resilience is negotiated within inequitable processes and to address the marginalization of those continuing to bear the brunt of the climate crisis.


knowledge; power; resilience; scale; subject making

Published in

Wires Climate Change
2022, Volume: 13, number: 3, article number: e762

    Sustainable Development Goals

    Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
    Reduce inequality within and among countries
    Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

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    Gender Studies

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