The knowledge politics of the environment

Environmental policy debates are often permeated by claims to knowledge and expertise, perceptions of environmental risk and scientific uncertainty. As a consequence, a growing scholarship has asked questions about how knowledge interacts with power and gains political effect in environmental affairs. My research is informed by such questions.  

Throughout my research I have explored how ideas, knowledge claims and expert practices are mobilized, legitimated and enacted in global environmental politics and governance. The knowledge politics of climate change serve as my primary empirical arena. In numerous journal articles and book chapters I examine the systems of thought and every-day knowledge practices that inform how climate change is governed internationally, transnationally and in our every-day lives.

My research is rooted in an interpretative research tradition and located at the interface of political science, environmental studies and science and technology studies. Inspired by Michel Foucault’s nominalist approach to central political concepts such as politics, power and government, I ask questions about ‘the how’ of environmental governance and statehood. How is the environment construed as a domain of government? How is environmental governance accomplished in practical and technical terms? How are agent categories and subjectivities constituted through the practices of environmental governance?

Currently I am involved in a number research projects. Apart from my externally funded grants, I pursue the following research projects:

Carbon Accountability

This research projects explores how carbon accounting renders climate change legible, knowable and governable as political problem. By paying attention to the manifold practical techniques, tools and methods by which carbon enters into political and market circulation and shapes bodily behavior, the project offers a decentered account of climate politics that extends beyond familiar political arenas, boundaries and sites.

Anthropocene Politics

This project asks how the ‘Anthropocene’ is construed and put to use in scientific and popular discourse. Our entry into a human-dominated epoch is a daunting proposition that challenges the modern distinction between nature and society that has been so central to Western environmental thought, politics and ethics. In the Anthropocene, the modern figure of Nature as a pure and absolute domain is replaced by hybrid and bewildering nature-cultures. This proposed ‘end of Nature’ raises fundamental questions about the purpose and trajectories of environmental politics. How can we make sense of and govern the hybrid world that we now inhabit? What is the object of concern to which environmental politics is directed? Where and with whom does political agency and responsibility reside?


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Research Projects
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Academic Degrees

Associate Professor (docent) in Water and Environmental Studies, Linköping University

PhD in Environmental Science, Kalmar University (2006). Title: “Greening Earth? Science, Politics and Land Use in the Kyoto Negotiations”. Advisors: Professor Bo Wiman, Department of Biology and Environmental Science, Kalmar University and Dr. Karin Bäckstrand, Department of Political Science, Lund University

MSc in Environmental Science, Lund University Masters Programme in Sustainability Studies (LUMES), Lund University

BSc in Political Science, Lund University 


Research networks

  • Co-director, Mistra Geopolitics, an international research programme funded by Mistra and hosted by Stockholm Environment Institute.
  • Coordinator and member of the Earth System Governance Project’s Conceptual Task force on the Anthropocene.

Editorial assignments

  • Member of the editorial boards for the journals Global Environmental Politics
  • Critical Policy Studies and the Anthropocene Review

Research visits abroad

  • Visiting scholar at the School of Political and Social Sciences, University of Melbourne, January 2016.
  • Visiting scholar at the School of Environment, University of Auckland, New Zealand, January-March 2014.
  • Post-doctoral research fellow at the Centre for Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Colorado, 2007-2008.

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PhD supervision

I currently supervise the following PhD students:
Main supervisor for Jiayi Zhou, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and Department of Thematic Studies: Environmental Change, Linköping University
Assistant supervisor for Maria Jernnäs, Department of Thematic Studies: Environmental Change, Linköping University 
Assistant supervisor for Jasmine Livingston, Centre for Climate and Environmental Studies, Lund University 
Assistant supervisor for Mareike Blum, University of Freiburg, Germany

Post-doc supervision

Anna Kaijser, Department of Thematic Studies: Environmental Change, Linköping University (since January 2015).
Magdalena Kuchler, Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research, Linköping University (March 2013-December 2014) 


My teaching includes undergraduate and graduate courses at Linköping University. Currently I teach two courses at the Bachelor Programme in Environmental Science (International Environmental Management 7, 5 hp and Multiple Ecologies 7,5 hp), one course at the Masters Programme in Science for Sustainable Development (Climate Science and Policy 15 hp), another course at the Masters Programme International and European Affairs at Linköping University (Contemporary Issues in International Governance 7,5 hp), and one PhD course at the Department of Thematic Studies (Interdisciplinarity: Ontology, Epistemology and Practice 3+2 hp).

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