Mattias Hjort

Working title: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) and the politics of knowledge production and standardisation

Supervisors: Fiona Nunan (IDD) and Emma Foster (POLSIS)

My research on REDD takes its point of departure in two distinct analytical approaches: Actor-Network Theory and particularly its offspring in the performativity of economics programme on the one hand, and governmentality studies originating in Michel Foucault on the other. This caters for a research focus that is not primarily concerned with how REDD is currently being negotiated by delegates from nation states under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, but rather with the production and standardisation of knowledge in assembling REDD as a governable domain, and forest carbon as a tradable commodity.

The production and standardisation of knowledge for understanding vital aspects of REDD such as rates of deforestation and forest degradation, carbon content, reference levels, and drivers of deforestation, is a decentered and contested activity. Further, in face of technical difficulties in measuring carbon in a precise manner, technical and political compromises must be made in which certain forms of knowledge will become accepted and certain forms will be excluded, if REDD is to become a governable domain and carbon a tradable commodity. By studying such processes of knowledge production and circulation, my research will explicate the modalities through which REDD is being assembled and this will allow for a more sustained understanding of how we currently seek to combat deforestation and climate change.


I’m a doctoral student at the International Development Department and the Department of Political Science and International Relations. My studies are generously supported by the Francis Corder Clayton Postgraduate Scholarship 2012-13. Before commencing my doctoral studies I have undertaken a broad range of studies spanning from natural scientific enquiries of environmental issues, to social scientific studies of international politics and economics. These studies have allowed me to develop a keen interest in field based research on development issues (undertaken in Vietnam) as well as more theoretically oriented research on environmental governance.

My aspiration with my doctoral studies is to draw all these different threads together and apply them to the scheme of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). It is a multi-billion dollar effort aimed at reducing deforestation in developing countries, with potentially huge socioeconomic consequences for a range of stakeholders on multiple scales; it therefore deserves close academic scrutiny.


  • BSc Environmental Science, Linköping University, Sweden
  • MA International Relations, Linköping University, Sweden
  • MA Global Studies, Göteborg University, Sweden

Research interests

  • Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)
  • The carbon economy
  • Environmental governance
  • Governmentality
  • Actor-network theory 

Professional memberships

  • European Association for the study of Science and Technology

Conference papers

Accounting for how people are governed when studying how REDD is performed’, paper presented at the 4s/easst conference, Copenhagen October 2012