First Advisor

David Kinsella

Date of Publication

Spring 6-5-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Public Affairs and Policy


Public Affairs and Policy




Climatic changes -- Islands of the Pacific, Climatic changes -- Government policy -- International cooperation, Environmental policy -- International cooperation



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 233 pages)


Transnational networks are growing in prevalence and importance as states, nongovernmental, and intergovernmental organizations seek to meet climate change goals; yet, the organizations in these networks struggle between the global, technical and local, contextual sources of power, authority, and knowledge used to influence decision-making and governance. This dissertation analyzes these contestations in Pacific Islands climate change diplomacy and governance efforts by asking: i) What do power relations look like among the Pacific Islands' networked organizations? ii) To what authority do organizations appeal to access sources of power? iii) What sources of knowledge are produced and reproduced by these organizations? and iv) How do these patterns fit within the broader history of the Pacific Islands and climate change? I draw from interviews, document analysis, event participation, and social network analysis of Pacific Island climate change diplomacy and governance. This examination leads me to propose the concept of "Climate Empire," which can be understood as the network of knowledge and communicative services that imagine, build, and administer the globe through a decentralized and deterritorialized apparatus of rule.

In the Pacific Islands, Climate Empire upholds technical bureaucratic and scientific approaches to overcoming climate challenges; however, the global spaces in which these approaches are produced are reconnected with the spaces of local resistance through data collection networks and efforts to relocalize knowledge. Thus, the local/global divisions found in diplomacy and governance in the Pacific Islands collectively produce and reform Climate Empire as organizations interact in the network. Further research is necessary to understand the extensiveness of Climate Empire, as well as to ensure the inclusion and empowerment of Pacific Island voices in climate governance for both justice and efficacy.


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