Current Institutional Affiliation
Postdoctoral Fellow, Earth Institute, Stanford University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2013
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Stanford University
Making More Than a Market: Carbon Credits and Distributive Politics in Acre, Brazil

The carbon stored in forests has new monetary value, created in the effort to mitigate climate change. The Brazilian state of Acre—renowned for its social movement against deforestation and related social dislocation—is developing what is considered the world's most advanced effort to activate this value. There, environmentalists in the state government and their partners are creating 'carbon credits': commodities representing carbon emissions avoided by reducing the state's projected deforestation rate, which are sold to outside polluters. They want to distribute revenues from these sales as forest protection 'incentives' to support rural producers, who are celebrated as central to Acre's forest-based identity. This project investigates how the production of these 'credits' might reshape the distributive practices of the Acriano state and its partners and, simultaneously, configure both credit developers and 'beneficiaries' as political subjects. I seek to reveal the political practices that marketizing carbon emissions may engender, such as claims for carbon ownership or compensation for forgoing deforestation. I ask: 1) what visions and rationales do officials and their private partners employ to produce credits? 2) how does credit production impact distributive practices of the Acriano state and its partners? and 3) how does credit production shape political practices, identities, and associations? Through ethnographic research with officials, project developers, and credit 'beneficiaries,' this project aims to investigate whether and how, contrary to conventional expectations, the marketization of carbon buttresses social welfare programs and redistributive politics in Acre, Brazil.