Accepted paper:

Measuring lived worlds: forest carbon, biodiversity and the governance of the 'biocultural'


Marc Brightman (Università di Bologna)

Paper short abstract:

Large-scale assessments of the value of ‘natural capital’ are being carried out around the world to attribute exchange values to the living environment for the purpose of rational governance based on economic calculation. What work does this require and what are its consequences?

Paper long abstract:

The idea of 'natural capital' and the 'green economy' were the key concepts that were discussed and promoted at the Rio 2012 climate summit, giving new impetus to their mobilisation across sectors in environmental governance. The role of 'natural capital' in a sustainable, 'green' economy is based on the powerful economic argument (articulated in particular by Partha Dasgupta) that economic calculations and exchanges should take into account the value of goods usually taken for granted, such as air, water and carbon, but also including ecosystems and biodiversity - which may be at least partially anthropogenic. In this paper I will present a study of the political ecology of the UN REDD+ programme in Suriname and introduce further research on biodiversity accounting in the EU in relation to the local politics of the re-introduction of keystone species - in both cases I am concerned with the relationship between the material object and the intangible commodity, and the work done to precipitate the latter from the former.

panel P68
Made to measure: measurement, anthropology and the enlightenment