The Power to Stay: Climate, Cocoa, and the Politics of Displacement

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Displacement due to environmental hazards such as sea-level rise and extreme weather has long been a prominent theme of climate adaptation and migration research. Although the relationship between climate adaptation and displacement is typically associated with the involuntary relocation of human bodies and livelihoods, in this article I offer an alternative perspective. Through an examination of recent trends in the Indonesian cocoa sector, I argue that fixing labor and capital in place—often in the form of smallholder producers—has emerged as a core strategy for corporate entities to manage the threat of their own economic displacement. Although this strategy enables corporate entities to maintain cocoa production in the face of economic and environmental disruption, the associated loss of smallholder mobility, constrained livelihood options, and new forms of financial dependency increase smallholder vulnerability to economic and environmental impacts associated with climate change. This work highlights emerging tensions between climate adaptation, displacement, and agrarian change while raising new questions concerning who and what is displaced and how in the context of climate adaptation in the Global South.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)674-683
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of the American Association of Geographers
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022


  • climate adaptation
  • cocoa
  • displacement
  • Indonesia
  • vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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