1st Edition

Negotiating Gender Expertise in Environment and Development Voices from Feminist Political Ecology

Edited By Bernadette Resurrección, Rebecca Elmhirst Copyright 2021
    272 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    272 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    This book casts a light on the daily struggles and achievements of ‘gender experts’ working in environment and development organisations, where they are charged with advancing gender equality and social equity and aligning this with visions of sustainable development.

    Developed through a series of conversations convened by the book’s editors with leading practitioners from research, advocacy and donor organisations, this text explores the ways gender professionals – specialists and experts, researchers, organizational focal points – deal with personal, power-laden realities associated with navigating gender in everyday practice. In turn, wider questions of epistemology and hierarchies of situated knowledges are examined, where gender analysis is brought into fields defined as largely techno-scientific, positivist and managerialist. Drawing on insights from feminist political ecology and feminist science, technology and society studies, the authors and their collaborators reveal and reflect upon strategies that serve to mute epistemological boundaries and enable small changes to be carved out that on occasions open up promising and alternative pathways for an equitable future.

    This book will be of great relevance to scholars and practitioners with an interest in environment and development, science and technology, and gender and women’s studies more broadly.

    The Open Access version of this book, available at https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9781351175180, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

    List of Contributors

    Foreword by Melissa Leach

    Preface by Wendy Harcourt


    Introduction: Troubling Gender Expertise in Environment and Development: Voices from Feminist Political Ecology

    Part 1: The Politics of Identity and Boundary Marking

    1. Strategic Reflexivity in Linking Gender Equality with Sustainable Energy: An Engineer in the Gender Profession

    By Rebecca Elmhirst and Bernadette P. Resurrección

    In conversation with Joy Clancy

    2. Is Epistemic Authority Masculine? Reflections on Gender, Status and Knowledge in International Agricultural Research and Development

    By Bernadette P. Resurrección and Rebecca Elmhirst

    In conversation with Gordon Prain

    3. Epistemic Crossings of a Marine Biologist through Gender Encounters

    By Bernadette P. Resurrección and Rebecca Elmhirst

    In conversation with Maeve Nightingale

    4. Beyond the Business Case for Gender: A Feminist Political Ecologist in the FAO

    By Rebecca Elmhirst and Bernadette P. Resurrección

    In conversation with Clara Mi Young Park

    5. Challenges and Dilemmas of Integrating Gender in the Field of Environment and Development at SEI: Metrics and Metaphors

    By Andreea R. Torre

    In conversation with Natalia Biskupska, Marisa Escobar, Laura Forni, Emily Ghosh, Ha Nguyen, and Lisa Segnestam


    Part 2: The Politics of Knowledge in Environment and Development Realms

    6. The Politics of Feminist Translation in Water Management

    By Bernadette P. Resurrección and Rebecca Elmhirst

    In conversation with Seema Kulkarni and Margreet Zwarteveen

    7. Embodied Engagement with Gender and Agrobiodiversity: Leveraging Transformative Moments in Multidisciplinary Teams

    By Rebecca Elmhirst and Bernadette P. Resurrección

    In conversation with Marléne Elias

    8. Please Genderise My Log Frame: Interactions with Technical Specialists for Gender Mainstreaming in Environment Projects

    By Bernadette P. Resurrección and Rebecca Elmhirst

    In conversation with Annette Wallgren And Victor Tsang

    9. The Gender Professional as Ethnographer: Working for Equitable Forests

    By Rebecca Elmhirst and Bernadette P. Resurrección

    In conversation with Carol J. Pierce Colfer

    10. Disaster Risk Governance and Gender Professionals: Command-and-Control and Re-Doing Gender

    By Bernadette P. Resurrección and Rebecca Elmhirst

    In conversation with Maria Holtsberg, Napapan Der Kinderen, and Hilde Jakobsen

    11. Lifting the Barriers of Integrating Gender in Livestock Production

    By Bernadette P. Resurrección and Rebecca Elmhirst

    In conversation with Nicoline De Haan

    12. We Build the Power in Empowerment: Feminist Activism at the Forefront of Environment and Climate Change Arenas

    By Bernadette P. Resurrección and Rebecca Elmhirst

    In conversation with Kate Lappin

    Part 3: The Power of Gender Champions

    13. Supporting Gender Experts: A Donor Perspective

    By Bernadette P. Resurrección and Rebecca Elmhirst

    In conversation with Maria Von Berlekom, Eva Johansson, Orawan Raweekoon and AnnaKarin Norling

    14. Gender Equality Work At USAID: Mandatory as Applicable

    By Kai Spratt And Charles 'Will' Lewis II

    Afterword: Gender Expertise, Environmental Crisis and the Ethos of Care



    Bernadette P. Resurrección is an Associate Professor in the Department of Global Development Studies at Queen’s University, Canada, and formerly was a Senior Research Fellow at Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI).

    Rebecca Elmhirst is Professor of Human Geography in the School of Environment and Technology at the University of Brighton, UK.

    "I am recommending this book because I don’t think there is any that delves into this subject of the daily struggles and achievements of ‘gender experts’ working in environment and development organizations. As a "gender expert" myself, I think it is indeed very timely for such a collection to reveal how gender experts navigate through the challenges and professional cultures within development organisations, as "change agents" to bring about the transformation they are mandated to. Fascinating and intriguing – a much needed book to understand the workings within development organisations." -- Chanda Gurung Goodrich, PhD, Senior Gender Specialist – Gender Lead, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)

    "Feminist movement faces new "second generation" issues as it enters the third decade of the 21st century. Its three palpable seismic fault lines are: polarized North-South contexts, activists versus agency 'femocrats', and women professionals versus gender experts. Using polyvocal dialogues with representatives in these tectonic zones rather than monochrome essays, Resurrección and Elmhirst blend feminism's political economy, science technology studies in ecology and field activism to throw a powerful spotlight on the politicized pathways ahead. This is a book that must be read by professionals and gender experts thrown into uneasy company." -- Dipak Gyawali, former Nepali minister of water resources, leading IDRC-supported research on water-induced disasters, gender and climate change

    "This timely book reads like an act of solidarity, as it reviews debates around the struggles, compromises, and achievements of ‘gender experts’, and acknowledges their persistent efforts to disregard professional, personal and disciplinary boundaries. And it feels like a call to action, by reminding us that making gender justice central to addressing existential environmental threats must overcome all boundaries." -- Ines Smyth, Independent Consultant, former Senior Gender Advisor, Oxfam

    "At long last, a book we have been waiting for! Going past binaries of good feminists and co-opted femocrats, speaking to us directly through voices of ‘gender-experts’ and providing a sharp and reflective framework to think through their narratives, this is a book that speaks to all interested in bringing forth a more just and sustainable world. It highlights the work of the workers on the sustainability frontline, who everyday work across an epistemological interface, take charge and confront the vicissitudes of integrating, translating, embodying gender into environmental and development work, or in fact ‘genderizing a log-frame.’" -- Seema Arora-Jonsson, Professor of Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    "What happens when a marine biologist, a mechanical engineer, and a water engineer encounter gender expertise? In this exciting new book, Bernadette Resurrección and Rebecca Elmhirst help us understand how gender experts negotiate the tensions that arise from a clash of very different kinds of knowledge, that is positivist science and feminism. Effectively expanding cutting-edge feminist literatures in political ecology and science and technology studies, they shed long overdue light on mainstreaming gender into various areas of environment and development. The book is a smart exercise in feminist reflexivity and offers a stimulating firework of ideas of what happens when gender experts work with scientists on issues ranging from climate change to water insecurity, and when they insert themselves in technologies ranging from geospatial imaging to modelling futures. Highly recommended!" -- Elisabeth Prügl, Professor of International Relations, and Director, Gender Centre, Graduate Institute, Geneva

    "Highlighting the politics of gender, knowledge, and expertise among practitioners this volume addresses a key question—how do practitioners and professionals navigate gender-related challenges in their everyday work, and what might this suggest about the broader politics of knowledge and expertise? From fields as diverse as agrobiodiversity, disaster risk, or marine biology, exploring these dynamics represents a novel and welcome addition to ongoing debates in feminist political ecology, science studies, and the politics of environment and development. Sharing these experiences also has the potential to inspire and support those working to realize a more equitable and sustainable world." -- Leila M. Harris, Professor, University of British Columbia/ Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability

    "This book takes on the challenge of putting research into practice with curiosity and rigour. Through an exploration of the ‘gender expert’, the book shows the challenges of implementing conclusions from research. Gender and intersectional inequalities are well documented in development research, leading to the proliferation of ‘gender experts’ to address them. But such efforts encounter numerous obstacles at all levels of program design and implementation. By engaging the professional experiences of gender experts across a range of natural resource sectors, this book shows the importance of on-going dialogue between research and practice." -- Andrea Nightingale, Professor, Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo

    "Understanding how change happens in environmental policy and practice in development organizations could scarcely be more urgent today. This book provides a fascinating and critical view into the world of ‘gender experts’, those who are simultaneously charged with transforming their institutions, while also coming up with policy ‘asks’, win-wins, technical fixes, and killer facts. By reflecting on their dilemmas, strategies and compromises, this book provides the inspiration and the insights that feminists need to continue chipping away at for change ‘from within.’" -- Laura Turquet, Policy Advisor, UN Women and co-founder of the UN Feminist Network  

    "This is a stunning and original work by Bernadette Resurrección, Rebecca Elmhirst and their diverse writing collaborators, exploring the performance and organisational milieu confronting gender professionals in the pursuit of gender and environmental transformations. The gender experts’ fields of knowledge may clash with those of their professional colleagues; they themselves are often learning on the job but are expected to deliver on outsized work expectations, creating cross-cutting gender platforms and also mainstreaming gender into internal silos of environment and development work. How is it working out? Read this book and learn!" -- Meryl Williams, Chair, Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries Section, Asian Fisheries Society

    "It is with great pleasure I endorse this book. Through a series of conversations with ‘gender experts’, the two eminent scholars in the field of political ecology, Bernadette Resurrección and Rebecca Elmhirst, have successfully taken on the innovative task to unravel their daily struggles and achievements in environment and development organisations." -- Ragnhild Lund, Professor Emeritus, Department of Geography, Norwegian University of Technology (NTNU)

    "This collection of essays provides a much-needed critical conversation around constraints faced by gender experts in international environment and development organizations, and how feminist scholarly engagements inform epistemological and praxis shifts to foster more equitable outcomes in policies and interventions in the Global South. Through creative and collaborative narrations and reflections, the book draws from insights of a range of practitioners and academics to shed light on important work that is being done, and showcases pathways for more meaningful and sustainable engagements going forward." -- Farhana Sultana, Associate Professor and Research Director of Environment, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, USA

    "Bernadette Resurrección and Rebecca Elmhirst explore the opportunities and challenges for gender experts to advance a ‘slow revolution to social justice’ in technical environmental and development organizations. The editors are perfectly placed to explore the contested role of the ‘gender expert’, drawing from their rich experiences in academia, policy research, development practice and women’s activism. The feminist principle of reflexivity is central to the book, as the contributors emphasize the ‘conscious self-reflection on the implications of one’s situatedness within different axes of power, privilege and affective relations."

    International Affairs, Oxford Academic