I am pleased to announce Astrid Oppliger’s successful public defence of her PhD thesis entitled Production, Circulation and Application of Scientific Knowledge: Forest Hydrology and Policy-Making in Chile. Her thesis addresses debates over forest plantations and water scarcity. She focusses on her native Chile’s forest plantation sector, where vast areas of “water sucking” eucalyptus plantations gained attention as the country struggles with multi-year droughts. She is particularly interested in how science interacts with policy, notably in the governance of the environment by diverse actors across industry, the state, and academia. She draws on the intersection of two main academic schools – political ecology and STS (science and technology studies) – to trace the ways in which scientific knowledge on forest hydrology is produced, circulated, and applied in the multi-actor governance of eucalyptus plantations.Read the rest of this entry »
The science, knowledge, and governance of thirsty eucalypts in Chile: PhD of Astrid Oppliger UribeFebruary 22, 2023
Company-led cocoa sustainability programs in Ghana: PhD of David AmuzuDecember 17, 2021
More good news on the PhD front: David Amuzu today passed his public defence with flying colours. David’s research revolves around the transformations in rural production systems in the cocoa forests of Ghana caused by the arrival of ‘sustainability certification programs’ led by chocolate companies. These are the kinds of programs that lie behind the labels on chocolate bars that guarantee that they were produced in rainforest-friendly, non-exploitative ways. He investigates how a firm-led sustainability program has inserted itself into the local landscape and with what sorts of social and agro-ecological consequences. He is particularly interested in the underlying power relations and imbricated social processes that can explain and highlight the dynamic social negotiations and (sometimes) injustices hidden behind sustainability certificates. The four results chapters focus on different consequences of the arrival and operation of the sustainability scheme, ranging from changes to governance institutions and local agrarian relations (Ch 3), the creation of benefits for and burdens on farmers (Ch 4), the obfuscation of land access relations (Ch 5), and blockages in on-farm tree conservation (Ch 6).Read the rest of this entry »
The politics of a “forest transition” in Vietnam: PhD of Nguyen Thi Hai VanDecember 6, 2021
I am thrilled to announce that Nguyen Thi Hai Van has successfully defended her PhD. Using a political ecology approach, Van investigated the dramatic changes in the forest landscapes of A Luoi, a mountainous district in the central coast of Vietnam. In this humid tropical landscape, natural forests were destroyed by war and logging, but forest cover has rebounded in the last 20 years due to widespread acacia plantations as well as conservation activities in remaining forests. Much of these changes have been attributed to successive state policies and programs, such as the allocation of forest lands to local people, the massive promotion of reforestation, and the implementation of ecosystem service payment schemes. Van, however, looks “under the hood” of the successive layers state policies to see how they translate into specific outcomes in specific places in conjunction with local aspirations and economic pressures. In the end, she argues that not only has the forest been transformed, but also the people – with ‘new forest people’ undertaking new livelihoods with new identities.Read the rest of this entry »
Tuna fishing in the Indian Ocean – marine political ecology (PhD Mialy Andriamahefazafy)July 15, 2020
With pride and pleasure I’d like to announce the successful doctorate of Mialy Andriamahefazafy, which she defended publicly on July 13. Mialy’s previous work with a marine conservation organisation in coastal Madagascar showed her that local fishers were complaining about big boats fishing offshore, while in the inland capital, government officials were keen on the revenue they could gain through access agreements with foreign tuna fleets. This inspiration led to her thesis work, in which investigated the socio-material matrix through which fishing occurs. She narrowed in on three main topics: how diverse actors ‘access’ the fish, how these actors ‘narrate’ their concerns over overfishing, and whether there is any sense in approaching this issue by appealing to a sense of ‘regional identity’. Mialy undertook fieldwork in three countries (Madagascar, Seychelles, and Mauritius), interviewing more than 223 individuals including small-scale fishers, industrial boat captains and sailors, government officials, cannery workers, retailers and more. Mialy also observed landings of tuna in ports both big and small, and practiced event ethnography by joining delegations to attend two international negotiations.
Sheep and shepherds in the Swiss Alps (PhD Hélène Weber)February 26, 2020
I’m proud to announce the successful public PhD defence of Hélène Weber, who has worked with me for five years as a doctoral assistant. Hélène researched a practice operating in the spatial, cultural, and political margins of Swiss agriculture: sheep farming. She investigated the on-going transformation of sheep farming in Switzerland, pushed by eco-modernist policies, market institutions and demands, and also by the actors themselves and their practices and relationships (farmers, herders, sheep, grass, dogs…). Hélène’s intuition was that an ethnographic, practice-centred approach to her topic would give different and complementary insights.
PhD scholarship in political ecologyFebruary 3, 2020
I am recruiting a doctoral student to work with me as a graduate assistant in the Development, Societies, and Environments group at the Institute of Geography and Sustainability at the Université de Lausanne next year. Read the rest of this entry »
The political ecology of the Ganges River (PhD Flore Lafaye de Micheaux)September 17, 2019
I’m proud to announce the successful public thesis defence of Dr. Flore Lafaye de Micheaux, the first of my Lausanne doctoral students to finish. The issue that guides and motivates Flore’s thesis is a shift in how the Indian government approached the environmental governance of the Ganges River, notably the Namami Ganga program of prime minister Narendra Modi. From a need to clean a polluted river, the problem became one of saving a landscape, a deity, and the nation.
Governance of forests, food commodities, and rivers: introducing my current doctoral teamMay 25, 2018
I’d like to introduce my current doctoral team, who are a great pleasure to work with. Their research interests have coalesced around the political ecology of environmental governance, specifically of forests, commodities, and rivers. In other words, who decides, who wins, who loses, and why, when decisions are made about trees, water, fish, cocoa, and sheep? What ideas are decisions based on, and how does the materiality of the object shape the outcomes? Here are some brief words on the team and their interests, grouped by three general themes: Read the rest of this entry »
PhD scholarships in political ecologyOctober 8, 2014
I am recruiting for two doctoral students to work with me in the development studies group at the Institute of Geography and Sustainability at the Université de Lausanne next year. Read the rest of this entry »