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Boletim do Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi. Ciências Humanas

Print version ISSN 1981-8122


MADALENO, Isabel Maria. Confronting death: Tuvaluan Islanders, in the South Pacific, and the rising sea level. Bol. Mus. Para. Emílio Goeldi. Ciênc. hum. [online]. 2012, vol.7, n.2, pp.493-508. ISSN 1981-8122.

The Tuvalu Group is made of nine small low-lying coral atoll and reef islands, located in the South Pacific, about 1,100 km north of Fiji. With a total area of 26 km2, it has about 11,000 residents, generally fishermen and breadfruit, taro, pulaka and coconut subsistence farmers. The people of Tuvalu are mostly of Polynesian origin, their culture and physical type being quite homogeneous. In order to develop an ethno-geographic study, during the month of February 2010, the Portuguese Tropical Research Institute has conducted a scientific mission to the atoll of Funafuti, widely known to be endangered due to the rising sea level. The objectives of the project were twofold: to evaluate the Pacific people's awareness to climate change and, consequently, to evaluate their perception of death. The survey consisted of fifty-eight semi-structured interviews. Results have shown that nearly two thirds of the remote islanders fear not the rising sea levels, as they are mostly Christians and therefore fearless of death. They emphatically trust that Divine Providence will bet on their survival.

Keywords : Tuvalu; Climate change; Religion; Subsistence; Death.

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