Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Geography

Committee Chair

Sarah J. Halvorson

Commitee Members

Ia Iashvili, Joel Iverson, Ulrich Kamp


Caucasus Mountains, Vulnerability, Climate Change, Phenomenology, Geography


University of Montana


Incorporating localized perceptions of climatic impacts to livelihoods and traditions is critical to shaping effective adaptive climate change and disaster risk reduction strategies in the Greater Caucasus Mountains of Georgia. This study uses a phenomenological research framework to investigate the lived experience of climate and the associated impacts of its change in Upper Svaneti. In addition, a vulnerability assessment examines the social and environmental aspects of disasters, including localized perceptions. Results are drawn from eight months of field research conducted from 2012-2013. Multiple in-depth qualitative methods were implemented to generate rich descriptive data, giving way to the roles that environmental changes, disasters, and glacial recession play across six villages. Semi-structured interviews, key informant interviews, informal conversations, observations, participation, and six vulnerability assessments were undertaken. A thematic analysis of respondents’ narratives yielded themes of helplessness, fear, and perceived benefits. The resulting vulnerability assessment explores the social, economic, and political aspects that are constraining local capacities to prevent, mitigate, and recover from natural disasters.



© Copyright 2014 Peter Alexandrovich Bordokoff