The safety paradox : unknown knowns, ungrieved grief and collective agreements not to know
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The discussion between the developing and developed world in Egypt during COP27 brought the history of colonialism and its impact on climate change to the table, as did the earlier floods in Pakistan. The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact of unacknowledged grief, shame and guilt, accruing over centuries, on our ability to move forward to a more sustainable future. At stake is not only a question of ‘loss and damage’ for those who have suffered disproportionately in the past and present, but also the need to acknowledge how past practice has set the stage for inequality and climate change in the global future. In this article we develop concepts of unknown knowns and ungrieved grief, and explore the mechanisms by which populations collectively turn away from uncomfortable or shameful truths. The failure to look at the past has transgenerational consequences, as present distractions contribute to an inability to ‘see’ the consequences of past and present action for future generations. The final section explores the safety paradox that arises from the fragmented safety of turning to conflict and war, and a holistic safety that requires grieving for the global whole.
Fierke , K M & Mackay , N 2023 , ' The safety paradox : unknown knowns, ungrieved grief and collective agreements not to know ' , International Relations , vol. OnlineFirst , Manuscript ID IR-21-0148.R3 . https://doi.org/10.1177/00471178231187499
Copyright © The Author(s) 2023. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).
DescriptionThe article is part of a larger project, Mapping the Empire: The Contemporary Legacy of Historical Trauma and Forced Displacement, which has been funded by the U.S. Human Family Unity Foundation through a donation to the University of St. Andrews.
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