(Re)producing power and expertise in Mexico’s forests: A critical look at early REDD+ initatives
As forests play a key role in the capture and storage of carbon, international NGOs and states are working together to promote programs that provide financial incentives for forest communities to reduce deforestation and forest degradation. Mexico, in particular, is considered to be among the more advanced countries in their promotion of such programs and in piloting other carbon mitigation programs referred to as Reducing Emissions, Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+). However, the ability of these programs to reconcile the tenuous relationship between economic efficiency and social equity in design and practice remains a serious concern. As these programs become the instruments through which REDD+ becomes implemented, we need a better understanding of how existing projects integrate differently situated actors, their knowledge, and the environmental outcomes of these social dynamics. This paper attempts to address this need by combining critical development, environmental governance and feminist theory to investigate the socio-spatial politics of exclusion and the production of subjectivities and expertise in existing forest projects in Mexico. To do this, I present the initial results of a case study among forest communities participating in early REDD+ programs in west-central Mexico. In particular, I hope to highlight the material and embodied practices that constitute subjectivity within REDD+ as well as the social and spatial ways in which REDD+ runs the risk of exacerbating already existing inequalities. Analyzing social difference in this way demonstrates how socio-spatial relations of power, such as gender, are mutually constituted and embedded within environmental programs such as REDD+.