Book: Governing the Rainforest

My book is Governing the Rainforest: Sustainable Development Politics in the Brazilian Amazon, published by Oxford University Press (2019)

Winner of the Lynton Keith Caldwell Prize, 2020 (American Political Science Association STEP section, for best book on environmental politics and policy published in the past three years).

The book is about the politics of sustainable development. As well-meaning plans for conservation and infrastructure become enacted in policies, lives, and on landscapes, this book shows that the results are in fact leading to expansions of state power, capital, and regional power imbalances.  I use ethnographic research and policy analysis to explore how sustainable development is unevenly playing out.

When planning is based on lofty ideals, what are the compromises that are made along the way? When plans for paving highways in the Amazon and building massive dams for energy are underway, in tandem with creating new conservation areas, how do people respond? How do social movement groups aim to shift those policies as they are being planned, and even, enacted?  

My research conveys how people at local levels resist and respond to state plans, and how sustainable development ultimately functions as an accessory to state power and capital expansion. Rather than a harmonious balancing between goals, book uses the history of sustainable development as a paradigm and vivid case studies to explain how the machinery of international development perpetuates uneven social and environmental outcomes.

Countless stories. Over a century of history recounted. A decade of research. Two years of field research, and three follow-up trips. All in one book!