Noah Walker-Crawford

PhD Thesis Title: Scaling responsibility: Andean responses to climate disaster

Research project

As climate change threatens people’s livelihoods around the world, people are increasingly looking to hold fossil fuel companies accountable. My research follows a precedent-setting lawsuit by a Peruvian farmer against a German energy company, tracing how different types of knowledge come to bear on social claims about climate change and responsibility.

Using an ethnographic approach, I have conducted research in the Peruvian Andes, at German courts and UN Climate Summits. In the Andes, glacial retreat has led to worries about flood risk and the possibility of water scarcity. This drove Saúl Luciano Lliuya, a farmer and mountain guide, to launch a legal claim against the German energy giant RWE seeking a judgement requiring the company to contribute financially to adaptation measures in Peru. In a German judicial context, climate activists and lawyers are mobilising scientific knowledge about atmospheric processes and climate change impacts in legal arguments for climate justice. As science becomes serviceable for legal claims about climate change accountability, this knowledge becomes ethically and politically charged. Ongoing advances in climate science allow an increasingly precise detection of climate change impacts and their attribution to individual emitters, raising the broad social question of which legal and political mechanisms are adequate for addressing the contemporary climate crisis.

My research draws on anthropology, socio-legal studies and STS to trace the broad stakes at play in contemporary discussions about climate change.

Research interests

  • Legal anthropology
  • Environmental anthropology
  • Anthropology of state and infrastructure
  • Engineering and disasters
  • Epistemology
  • Andean studies


  • Prof Penny Harvey
  • Dr Chika Watanabe


2020: Visiting Research Fellow, STS Program, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

2019-ongoing: Teaching Assistant, Social Anthropology, University of Manchester

2017-ongoing: Affiliated Investigator, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú

2016-ongoing: PhD Candidate in Social Anthropology, University of Manchester

2015-2016: MA Anthropological Research, University of Manchester

2011-2015: MA Anthropology and International Relations, University of Aberdeen

Awards and honours

2019-2021: Co-Investigator on NERC (UK) and CONCYTEC (Peru) joint project, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (Peru GROWS: Peruvian Glacier Retreat and its Impact on Water Security)

2016-2020: Economic and Social Research Council North West Doctoral Training Centre Studentship, University of Manchester

2016: Rappaport Prize finalist, Anthropology and Environment Society, American Anthropological Association

2015: Anthropology Most Successful Student Award, University of Aberdeen

Selected publications

Walker-Crawford, N. (2019). 'Shifting Climates of Responsibility: Facing Environmental Disaster in the High Andes', in Taks, J. & Alzugaray, S. (eds.) Anthropological Contributions for Sustainable Futures: Research and interventions in the fields of environmental needs, gender equity, human rights and knowledge in South America and the United Kingdom. Montevideo: Universidad de la República Uruguay, pp. 77-80.

Walker-Crawford, N. (2017). Andean Farmer Demands Climate Justice in Germany. (Glacier Hub). Available online

Walker-Crawford, N. (2016) Klimaklage aus Peru: Warum sich RWE für das Flutrisiko in den Hochanden verantworten muss. UfU Themen und Informationen Heft 80, 2/2016. [Climate Lawsuit from Peru: Why RWE must take Responsibility for Flood Risk in the High Andes]

Walker-Crawford, N. (2016) Der Fall Huaraz: Klimagerechtigkeit in den Hochanden. Böll-Thema 2016(1). [The Case of Huaraz: Climate Justice in the Andes]

Walker-Crawford, N. (2016) Justicia Climática: Luchando por los glaciares andinos en la corte alemana. (InfoAndina). Available online.  [Climate Justice: Fighting for the Andean Glaciers in the German Court]