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Kelly Dorkenoo

PhD Student

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Seeing loss through land : On the emergence of disproportionate climate-related loss and damage in agrarian Cambodia


  • Kelly Dorkenoo

Summary, in English

The climate is changing in ways that make loss more present. People and places in the Global South whose economies and rural livelihoods are centred on land and natural resources are considered particularly vulnerable to climate change and are expected to disproportionately experience climate-related loss. Evidence of such disproportionate burdens and the injustices they engender is growing and gaining significant attention in international negotiations on climate change under the umbrella term of ‘Loss and Damage’. Yet, many uncertainties and disagreements remain about what constitutes (disproportionate) climate-related loss, for whom, and how it can be addressed.
In this thesis, I ask how climate-related loss emerges in agrarian contexts and how it can become characterised as disproportionate. I address this question through five articles. Employing an interdisciplinary and mixed-method approach, I review knowledge on disproportionality in loss and damage and empirically investigate climate-related loss in two case studies in Cambodia. I critically examine how disproportionality in climate-related loss is conceptualised, empirically analysed, and experienced; the processes that underpin climate-related loss, using land as an analytical entry-point; and the role of representation of smallholder farmers’ interests in visions of the future with climate change in the emergence of disproportionate climate-related loss. I frame climate-related loss as losing the ability to derive benefits from objects or phenomena of value as a result of climatic and socioeconomic drivers and argue that it can be characterised as disproportionate in relation to the ability to influence the conditions that lead to this loss. Drawing on scholarship on the political economy of vulnerability and sociology of climate change and loss, I show how financialization plays a critical role in precipitating the loss of ability to derive benefits from the land for some, to the benefit of others. The findings of the thesis demonstrate the power-laden processes through which climate-related loss emerges in agrarian settings and how these unfold through changes in land relations.
In the thesis I make the following contributions: i) provide empirical evidence of climate-related loss in agrarian contexts in Cambodia; ii) conceptualise disproportionate climate-related loss as an emergent phenomenon at the intersection of access and value; iii) contribute to theorizations of climate-related loss beyond the frame of vulnerability; and iv) propose a relational justice lens to support the transformative potential of climate-related loss. In doing so, I critically engage with knowledge at the interface of science and policy and contribute to a deeper understanding of the role of climate-related loss in pathways towards sustainability.


  • LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate

Publishing year




Document type



Lunds universitet, Media-Tryck


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Climate Research


  • Climate change
  • loss and damage
  • land
  • financialization
  • Global South
  • relational justice
  • critical realism
  • vulnerability
  • sustainability science




  • Emily Boyd
  • Murray Scown
  • Chad Boda


  • ISBN: 978-91-8104-067-8
  • ISBN: 978-91-8104-066-1

Defence date

5 June 2024

Defence time


Defence place

Ostrom, Josefson, Biskopsgatan 5, Lund


  • Lars Otto Naess (Dr)