Dr Yolanda Ariadne Collins from the School of International Relations, University of St Andrews will be discussing her book Forests of Refuge: Decolonizing Environmental Governance in the Amazonian Guiana Shield.

Forests of Refuge questions the effectiveness of market-based policies aimed at governing forests in the interest of mitigating climate change. In this talk about her forthcoming book, Collins will interrogate the implementation of the biggest and most ambitious global plan to incentivize people away from deforesting activities, the United Nations endorsed Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) initiative. Forests of Refuge explores REDD+ in Guyana and neighbouring Suriname, two highly forested countries in the Guiana Shield with low deforestation rates where conservation efforts would be expected to have a relatively easy path. Yet, REDD+ has been fraught with challenges. The talk will situate these challenges in the inattentiveness of global environmental policies to roughly five hundred years of colonial histories that positioned the forests as places of refuge and resistance. It will advocate that the fruits of these oppressive histories be reckoned with through processes of decolonization. Forests of Refuge shows that pursuing decolonization in countries shaped almost entirely by the colonial encounter depends on reducing deference to the sovereign state in questions of environmental governance; removing the market from its increasingly central position as arbiter of environmental and social affairs; un-disciplining the racialized subjects of colonial governance, and amplifying those ethics and ways of being in the world that are associated with pre-colonial and non-Eurocentric knowledge traditions. In developing these arguments, Forests of Refuge contributes to three ongoing discussions: the feasibility of increasingly popular market-based tools for encouraging conservation within the neoliberal conservation literature; processes of racialization within critiques of the Anthropocene; and the possibility of decolonization within the critical development literature.  

This event is part of the Social Life of Climate Change Seminar Series. These research seminars are interdisciplinary discussions around contemporary debates in the humanistic social sciences of climate change and the environment. 

The series is co-sponsored by the Department of Geography and Environment, the Department of Sociology and the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

The seminars are open to all. If you would like access to any of the upcoming seminars please email geog.comms@lse.ac.uk.

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