New faculty: Dinko Hanaan Dinko

Dinko Hanaan Dinko, a new faculty member at Mount Holyoke College, is interested in those who are benefiting and losing from climatic change and viewing the lived experiences of climate change through filters of power and economic and social identities.

Dinko Hanaan Dinko has personal experience with the way in which power dynamics affect water insecurity in semiarid Africa.

Dinko’s grandfather is a chief in northeastern Ghana, and his early childhood years were spent in a palace where water reserves were plentiful for his family and the rest of the community. But when Dinko was 13, his father, a mid-ranking Army officer, moved to the military barracks in the city, where the original supply of water was diverted to better serve the needs of a multinational corporation that was building a five-star hotel near the base.

“All of a sudden, water stopped flowing,” Dinko said. “In the village, I enjoyed power and privilege. In the city, I became a victim of power and privilege, so that contradictory experience triggered my interest.”

Dinko used his childhood experience as a case study for his undergraduate dissertation at the University of Ghana. At the University of Denver, he expanded his focus to look at how water insecurity affects not only cities but rural and agricultural spaces, and he completed his doctoral dissertation on climate change and water insecurity in Ghana.

As a geologist, Dinko is interested in those who are benefiting and losing from climatic change and in how the lived experiences of climate change when viewed through filters of power and economic and social identities. For instance, a banker in New York City, as Dinko explains, will have a different experience with climate change than a farmer in rural Angola whose livelihood is entirely dependent on the seasons and patterns of rainfall.

“The United States, India and China are the leading producers of CO2, but they’re not necessarily the countries that bear the brunt of climatic excesses. It is small countries in the Pacific, Africa and other places that are bearing the brunt,” he said.

Dinko uses drone mapping to better explain spatial inequality, analyze the healthiness of crops and reveal whether water access for crops is being equally distributed. Unlike satellite images, detailed, high-resolution data from drones can be obtained at any time; drones can also be deployed from anywhere.

His research on human environmental interactions, the geopolitics of resource conflict and the replication of inequality through the development of dams has been published in various geography journals, including Annals of the Association of American Geographers and Climate and Development.

Dinko was attracted to Mount Holyoke because it offered the opportunity to further pursue two of his loves — researching and teaching. The College provided funding towards the building of a lab, which will be fully operational in fall 2024. Dinko is procuring drones and other equipment and applying for grant support to hire a researcher to assist in the development of his current paper on infrastructure diplomacy for China in Africa.

He is also excited to teach students who are as curious to learn as Mount Holyoke students are.

“When I visited in the fall of last year, I was impressed by the caliber of students. They asked me very smart questions. I was drawn to their desire to be active participants in the entire teaching and learning environment,” Dinko said. “I was also impressed with the level of enthusiasm and interest they showed in my work. They can give me even more research ideas just by having a conversation with me.”

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