Underwater: Floods and the Social Classification, Pricing, and Distribution of the Risks of Climate Change in the United States


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




How are the risks that lie at the heart of climate change constructed through social and political processes? What factors shape how the financial costs of those risks are distributed across populations? This dissertation engages these questions by drawing on interview data, archival material, and ethnographic fieldwork conducted in communities currently navigating recent changes to the National Flood Insurance Program. Engaging theoretical questions at the intersection of risk and classification, the dissertation traces the development and deployment of two devices that work together to classify and price flood risk: flood risk maps and actuarial insurance pricing formulas. The project connects these devices to political contestation regarding how to manage the costs of rising sea levels.