Jack Lohmann ’19, English

Certificate(s): Environmental Studies, Journalism

The Republic of Nauru, the world’s smallest island country, is located in a remote region of the Pacific Ocean. Nauru is the site of two complementary human-initiated crises: the near-total destruction of the physical landscape by phosphate mining and, in recent years, the operation of a controversial refugee-detention regime under the direction of Australia that is generally hidden from public view. I lived in Nauru this summer to document life for the natives and refugees who spend their lives in this tiny, environmentally ravaged land. I gathered materials about the history and culture of the island, and I conducted interviews with some of the refugees held there since 2013. I also spoke informally with many people about the state of Nauru. I created an evidentiary record of locations throughout the island that are used for phosphate extraction, refugee detention and agriculture. My thesis, based on this work, explores the relationship between environmental degradation and the loss of human rights.