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Weger Jacob | Writing-Up Fellow
2020-10-01 - 2021-06-30 | Research area: Sustainability Research
Delta Variations: Politics of Translation in the Governance of Climate Change Adaptation in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

This project explores how knowledge is translated into practical action and socio-environmental change under the guise of climate change adaptation, shedding light on the evolution of deltaic landscapes in the context of climate change and socioeconomic development. Based on 19 months of multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in the Netherlands and Vietnam, and employing data from a variety of sources, the study examines the politics of knowledge and translation involved in the transnational governance of climate change adaptation in the Mekong Delta. During my time at the KLI, I will complete at least two dissertation chapters while further honing my overarching conceptual framework and reflecting on the implications of the research for sustainability science and climate adaptation more broadly. The first chapter focuses on the historical production of Dutch expertise in water and delta management and its translation to the Vietnamese context. The second examines the translation of knowledge for climate adaptation across levels of governance within Vietnam, highlighting the role of intermediary actors such as scientists and bureaucrats in the midst of a hierarchical politics of implementation. This project brings together anthropology, environmental history, Earth Systems science, and development studies, as well as the critical theoretical perspectives of political ecology and science and technology studies, to interrogate the cross-scalar governance of climate change adaptation. In doing so, it offers insights into processes of socio-material change in order to aid efforts to advance more just and sustainable transformations.