Teresa Norman

Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Earth and Ocean Sciences

First Advisor

Monica Barra


Climate change projections for the coastline of South Carolina predict that by mid-century there will be around 1.2 feet of sea level rise, and potentially up to 4 feet of rise by 2100. Additionally, climate change is linked to intensified hurricanes, a hazard for the South Carolina coastline every year. Both of these scenarios result in increases in the regularity and severity of coastal flooding, making the threat of permanent or temporary displacement (relocation) from coastal lands a reality. This is a particularly pressing matter for African American communities already made vulnerable by the long history of racial discrimination in the United States, which includes historically racist lending practices that have dispossessed African American land owners of coastal, family properties. As the threats of climate change materialize, there has been an influx of coastal development, gentrification, and whitening of the coastline facilitated by so-called colorblind climate change planning and environmental engineering that has largely excluded African American landowners from planning processes. In order to understand how contemporary coastal development and climate change planning practices potentially exacerbate these inequalities, my research will examine three interrelated questions: How does situating coastal South Carolina within multiple geographies inform the present governance of adaptation to climate change? What is the state narrative of climate change, and how are heirs’ property owners included or excluded in planning? And, what does the land of heirs’ property owners mean to them?