INTIMACY-GEOPOLITICS OF REDD+

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  • INTIMACY-GEOPOLITICS OF REDD+ EXPLORING ACCESS & EXCLUSION IN THE

    FORESTS OF SUNGAI LAMANDAU, INDONESIA

    BY

    PETER JAMES HOWSON

    A thesis submitted to the Victoria University of Wellington in fulfilment of the

    requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

    Victoria University of Wellington

    2016

  • To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing.

    Raymond Williams, Sources of Hope, 1989

  • i

    ABSTRACT

    Indonesia remains the largest contributor of greenhouse gases from primary forest loss

    in the world. To reverse the trend, the Government of Indonesia is banking on carbon

    market mechanisms like the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation

    (REDD+) programme. Geographers have made significant progress in detailing the

    relationships between private and public interests that enable REDD+. Less understood

    are the materialities of everyday life that constitute the substantive nodes the bodies,

    the subjectivities, the practices and discourses of political tensions and conflicts

    within Indonesias nascent REDD+ implementation framework. Concerns for equity

    rooted within an economistic frame of benefit sharing seem to be high on political

    agendas. Yet, relatively few studies have investigated the basic principles and intimate

    processes underlying benefit sharing approaches within sites of project

    implementation.

    Focussing on Sungai Lamandau, Central Kalimantan as a case study, I consider the

    powers local actors mobilise to access, and exclude others from the diverse and, at

    times, elusive set of benefits within one community-based REDD+ project. Reflecting

    on over 150 interviews and ten months of ethnographic observations, the exploration

    provides a timely alternative to overly reductive REDD+ research, which remains

    focused on links between benefit sharing, safeguards, additionality, monitoring and

    verification. Instead it addresses the need to bring people back in, centring human

    agency within studies of REDD+.

    The sometimes violent processes of access and exclusion, which occur within the Sungai

    Lamandau project, cut across conventional bounds of places and scales and are

  • ii

    connected by political relations that traverse realms of intimate and transnational

    geopolitics. The thesis therefore proposes a feminist-inspired intimacy-geopolitics as

    an analytical approach that connects seemingly close-knit and disparate people, places,

    and events orbiting issues of REDD+ implementation. I draw attention to the outwardly

    apolitical (or a-geopolitical) realms of the body, the home, and intimate relationships

    as key sites where geopolitical power is (re)produced and challenged.

    The thesis helps demonstrate the importance of dissolving the boundaries between the

    global and the local; the market and state; and the personal and political, within critical

    investigations of REDD+. Intimacy-geopolitics is used to articulate the inseparability of

    politics from economic, environmental and emotional geographies. Through such a

    framing this thesis uncovers the nuanced multi-local livelihoods of people as they adapt

    to violent upheavals, or make REDD+ part of a mix of options to clear paths towards

    more secure futures. While some farmers are able to counter their exclusion from

    benefits, others start to lose their precarious foothold on the land and must diversify

    their income sources as a result, with many bidding farewell to farming and forest-

    based livelihoods. The complex survival strategies, which this thesis helps make sense

    of, can be seen as both a cause of, and a reaction to, imposed social and environmental

    protections a kind of everyday counter-movement.

    I suggest that REDD+ rooted in market logic, competition and individualism instills in

    people a nessesity for exclusionary practices. Masculinist models of REDD+ will

    therefore not only continue to fail in addressing the root-causes of anthropogenic

    greenhouse gas emissions, but will continue to be highly exclusive disproportionately

    impacting women and those already marginalised.

  • iii

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    I had heard that, for many people, the road towards submitting a PhD thesis is a lonely

    one. I however have been blessed with a truly inspirational team of fellow researchers.

    Without the support of Rini Astuti and Rowan Dixon, the last several years would have

    been all the more laborious. I hope this is just the start of our long collaborative futures

    together.

    I would like to thank all the research participants for their time, energy and patience,

    and for being so hospitable to me during my time in Sungai Lamandau. I would also like

    to thank all the staff and volunteers at Yayorin and the Clinton Climate Initiative. Trims

    banyak to all my new friends in Pangkalanbuun for your support and assistance, from

    helping me move into my beautiful barakan house to finding my moped. I want to

    extend these thanks far beyond Sungai Lamandau, down the river to the villages of

    Rimba Raya. It filled my heart with renewed hope for humanity when I arrived to such a

    hospitable and friendly bunch in the village of Baung. Thanks for teaching me how to

    tap rubber trees, catch fish and fix footballs with tree sap.

    I would also like to thank the sponsors. The project was principally funded through a

    Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Grant. I also received funding through two

    Victoria University Strategic Research Grants and a Doctoral Submission Scholarship.

    I am grateful to all the staff in the Geography department at Victoria University for

    supporting me over the past three-years or so. I have been very lucky to have such

    enthusiastic and compassionate people around me. Special thanks to Dr Bethany

  • iv

    Haalboom and Dr Marcela Palomino-Schalscha for your encouragement and support.

    Despite the significant spatial separations, Dr Suraya Afiff; Dr Sophie Bond; and Dr Ed

    Challies were also critically important in bringing this thesis together.

    My supervisory team had a few substitutions along the way to submission. I am

    incredibly greatful to Dr Mike Gavin at Colorado State University for preparing me for

    life in the forests of Sungai Lamandau. I also appreciate the supervision, guidance and

    friendship of Dr Andrew McGregor. Thank you for putting so much trust in me to

    complete the most difficult (and the most interesting) part of the project.

    Enormous thanks are reserved for my excellent primary supervisor and friend Dr Sara

    Kindon. You have always made me feel capable and motivated from day-one. I will miss

    our philosophical chats more than any other part of this experience. I hope we can

    continue them from wherever we end up.

    I would like to thank Dr Derek Hall for sharing in a number of my ideas and giving some

    really valuable feedback. I would also like to thank all the anonynmous reviewers of

    various journal articles for their feedback and suggestions for improving things.

    My family have been unfailing in their encouragement. My brother, Stephen particularly

    has been incredibly dependable.

    HUGEST thanks of all to my wife and Dr Who companion, Sarah. You turn each and

    every challenging moment into fun and excitement, and every moment of joy into

    something unforgettable. If it was not for you I would definitely be lost in the figurative

    (and literal) woods of Central Kalimantan.

  • CONTENTS

    ABSTRACT ................................................................................................................................................... I

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ..................................................................................................................... III

    FIGURES & TABLES ............................................................................................................................... IX

    ACRONYMS ............................................................................................................................................... XI

    INDONESIAN TERMS ........................................................................................................................ XIII

    1 | INTRODUCTION

    1.1 THESIS RATIONALE & RESEARCH QUESTIONS .................................................................. 1

    1.2 THESIS APPROACH & CONTRIBUTIONS ................................................................................ 7

    1.3 THESIS STRUCTURE ..................................................................................................................... 17

    2 | SEEING REDD IN A GREEN ECONOMY

    2.1 INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................................. 21

    2.2 MAKING REDD+: CONTESTING THE VALUE OF FORESTS IN INDONESIA ............. 23

    2.3 CONTEXTUALISING REDD+ IN SUNGAI LAMANDAU ...................................................... 39

    2.4 CONCLUSIONS ................................................................................................................................. 49

  • 3 | TOWARDS AN INTIMACY-GEOPOLITICS OF REDD+

    3.1 INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................