Rendering local: The politics of differential knowledge in carbon offset governance

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2 Citations (SciVal)


Environmental governance relies on the translation of socioecological knowledge across disciplines and cultural–political boundaries. Comparatively few studies have, however, examined how such expert knowledge is translated back into the local contexts where projects are implemented. This article explores these processes of translation for the case of forest-based carbon offsetting using a case study of the Trees for Global Benefits project in Uganda. Based on successive fieldwork in two project regions, it examines how climate change, carbon, and carbon trading are understood by project participants and what work these understandings perform as part of the governance of carbon offsets. The article identifies a distinctive “rendering local” of project logics and rationale, which occurs in part as a management strategy by the project organizers and is in part the outcome of participants’ own articulations of offsetting concepts within the socioecological contexts in which they are embedded. Although these often unruly translations provide tensions and contradictions within the sociomaterial assemblage that constitutes the offset market, they also serve to facilitate project management. The dynamics identified here highlight the uneven geographies of environmental knowledge as instrumental to the governance of the offset market, therefore warranting closer attention by scholars studying carbon forestry and neoliberal environmentalism more generally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1353-1368
Number of pages16
JournalAnnals of the American Association of Geographers
Issue number5
Early online date2020 Feb 12
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Human Geography
  • Environmental Management


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