Research and Publications

Gender, adaptive capacity, and the production of knowledge in climate change:

In 2009, I conducted research in the Mexican state of Guanajuato that analyzed how women’s everyday material practices contribute to the production and exchange of knowledge, resources and responses to adverse economic and ecological changes, such as El Niño induced droughts, increased male migration, and neoliberal agricultural policies.  Working from the intersections of feminist geography, feminist theories of knowledge production, social reproduction, and adaptive capacity frameworks, this research explored how the production of knowledge and relations of power shape local adaptation and decision-making under socio-ecological uncertainty.  I found that approaching questions of adaptation and adaptive capacities through the lens of knowledge production and social reproduction provided important insights into how material realities shape the production and exchange of resources.  This production and exchange then influences the ability of individuals, families, and communities to translate this knowledge into effective action in the face of political, economic, and environmental change. Such research allows us to not only understand how households respond to socio-ecological change, but also the important implications that knowledge production and application posses for livelihoods and food security, resource management in a changing environment, and the limits and opportunities for strengthening adaptation.

Relevant publications:

Bee, BA. 2016. Power, perception, and adaptation: Exploring women’s socio-environmental risk perception in northern Guanajuato, Mexico. Geoforum, 59, 71-80.

Bee, B.A., Rice, J. and Trauger A.  2015.  A Feminist Approach to Climate Change Governance: Everyday and Intimate Politics. Geography Compass, 9(6): 339–350. 

Bee, B.  2014. “Si no comemos tortilla, no vivimos”: Women, climate change, and food security in central Mexico. Agriculture and Human Values, 31(4): 607-620.

Bee, B.A.  2013.  Who reaps what is sown? A feminist inquiry into climate change adaptation in two Mexican ejidosACME: An International E-journal for Critical Geographies, 12(1): 131-154

Bee, B.  2010.  Making space: Gender in climate change research.  Society for Applied Anthropology News, 21 (3).

Understanding “challenges to adaptation” as part of the New Socio-economic scenario development:

This work was completed with colleagues from the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Pardee Center for Sustainable Futures at the University of Denver.  This project sought to contribute an analysis of the “challenges to adaptation” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has lead the charge to develop a new set of climate scenarios that are updated and more comprehensive than the previously used SRES.  Our work focused on the portion of the new scenarios that describe socioeconomic change: Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs), which are comprised of both challenges to mitigation and challenges to adaptation.  We focused specifically on developing a conceptual framework for a shared understanding of the benefits and trade-offs inherent in the challenges to adaptation concept for both the integrated assessment modeling community as well as the vulnerability and adaptation research community.

Relevant publications:

Rothman D.S., Romero-Lankao P., Schweizer V.L., Bee B.A. 2013.  Challenges to adaptation: A fundamental concept for a new generation of socio-economic scenariosClimatic Change, 122(3), 495-507DOI: 10.1007/s10584-013-0907-0.

Analysis of the drivers of deforestation and degradation in Mexico: 

I am currently collaborating with researchers from the Geography of REDD+ research group at the Autonomous University of Mexico’s Environmental Geography Department (UNAM-CIGA) and several researchers and local consultants in Jalisco and the Yucatan Peninsula to understand the drivers of deforestation and degradation.  This project, financed by the Norweigan government and the Mexican National Ministry of Forestry (CONAFOR), is part of the broader efforts to develop and implement a national monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) system.  Lead by the principal investigator, Dr. Margaret M. Skutsch, we have been tasked with developing methods that enable the identification and mapping of deforestation and forest degradation in the regions mentioned above.  The remote-sensing team, through a spatial analysis, will identify 30 “hot-spots” of deforestation and forest degradation to base the local research sites.  These sites are focused on Early Action Areas in the states of Jalisco, Quintana Roo, Yucatan, and Campeche.  The social science research component,   for which I am partly responsible, consists of household surveys and key informant interviews to understand the agents, public policies, and underlying causes of land use and land use change with regards to deforestation and forest degradation.

Relevant publications and presentations:

Skutsch, M., Mas, J. F., Bocco, G., Bee, B., Cuevas, G., & Gao, Y. 2014.  Deforestation and land tenure in mexico: A response to Bonilla-Moheno et al. Land use Policy 39(2014), 390-396.

Bee, B. A., Skutsch, M., Paneque Galvez, J. Cuevas, G., Gao, Y, & Mas, J. F. 2014. Land tenure, agrarian change and forest cover: The case of Mexico.  24th IUFRO World Congress, Salt Lake City, UT Oct. 2014.

Skutsch, M., Bee, B., Gao, Y.  2013.  Deforestation and degradation in REDD+: The cases of Jalisco and the Yucatan Peninsula.  A preliminary report to the Mexico-Norway Project. Morelia, Mexico: UNAM.

The politics of rescaling regional environmental governance in Mexico: In Mexico the decentralization of the state has been associated with the interests of political parties and the fight for power.  Reforms to article 115 of the Mexican consitution were efforts to weaken centralized governance and create formal mechanisms like the Decentralized Públic Organizations (OPDs).  In environmental terms and in the face of international promises such as REDD+, Mexico is promoting the conformation of OPDs by means of the Inter-municipal Governance organizations (Juntas Intermunicipales).  Although the Juntas are considered a model for local governance, they simultaneously provide a mechanism to re-centralize political power.  Working with collaborators in Jalisco, this institutional ethnography analyzes the process of rescaling political power by means of these organizations and the significance of such rescaling for both environmental governance and Mexican politics.

Relevant publications:

Delgado-Quintana J. and Bee B.A.  La descentralización a las lombrices: Gobernanza ambiental a nivel del terreno local.  Invited for submission to Gestión y Política Pública. (in progress)

Power, knowledge, and expertise in Mexico’s Payment for Ecosystem Services: My most recent project entails integrating feminist theories of knowledge and power with environmental governance and socio-ecological frameworks to reframe and enrich our understanding of the multi-scalar social processes that shape environmental change and rural livelihoods.  The UNFCC climate change mitigation policy on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) utilizes payments for ecosystem services (PES) to reward rural communities that are able to reduce deforestation and degradation and enhance forest stocks. However where appropriate mechanisms to represent ecosystem service values in decision-making and policy are not in place, benefits and costs derived from the maintenance of forest services are inequitably shared.  Poor rural populations are trapped in a dilemma: depletion of natural resources in order to create income now, versus their conservation for long term survival and broader social good.

This research utilizes a conceptual framework that integrates feminist theory and environmental governance to understand the complex interactions between social-ecological knowledge and sustainable resource management.  By putting these frameworks in conversation with one another, it provides a new conceptual tool for thinking about the politics of power and knowledge in PES projects, such as REDD. In this way, a focus on power and knowledge opens space to question how the measurement and commodification of forest resources shapes and is shaped by the production, reproduction, and exchange of knowledge, resources, and responses to simultaneous economic and environmental change.  Towards this end, three questions guide this study: 1) What are the everyday material practices of the actors involved in PES projects and in what ways do these activities contribute to environmental knowledge and resource management? 2) How is this environmental knowledge socially and spatially differentiated?  3) In what ways do local actors participate in decision-making and governance structures of existing PES projects?  An analysis of the power-laden process of knowledge production can provide greater insights into how power operates across multiple scales (household, community, international, etc.) and how certain types of knowledge become infused in governance strategies, while others are ignored.

Bee, B.A. and Sijapati Basnett, B. (in press). En-gendering social and environmental safeguards in REDD+: Lessons from feminist and development research. Third World Quarterly.