Low Country, High Water: Folklore Futurisms and Collaborative Climate Vision in Beaufort County, South Carolina

Spencer George (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

In 2020, a ProPublica climate study ranked Beaufort County, South Carolina as the top county in America set to experience the greatest compounded effects of climate change. Yet few in Beaufort are aware of this data, viewing sea level rise, intense heat and humidity, and an increase in major weather events as conditions of everyday coastal life rather than indicative of a larger coming crisis. This paper makes a case for a shift from Folklore Survivals to Folklore Futurisms as we consider the field’s role in spaces of environmental crisis and reflects on creative responses to climate change in Beaufort County. Through showcasing how Lowcountry artists are pushing back against scientific objectivity in their art and work, this research demonstrates the importance of a valuation of local knowledge and everyday experience as we approach the “end times” and craft a communal vision of what comes next.

Part of 04-12 Folklore and the Environment in the Coastal American South, Friday, November 03, 8:30 am–10:00 am