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Research overview

Y Ariadne Collins is a Lecturer in the School of International Relations. Her work lies at the intersection of climate change governance, environmental policy and international development. More specifically, she analyses the interplay between market-based conservation and post-colonial development. Her work features an emphasis on processes of racialization and histories of colonialism, and their challenge to the successful enactment of forest governance policies in the Global South. 

Ariadne's first book was published in March 2024 by University of California Press. The book, titled Forests of Refuge: Decolonizing Environmental Governance in the Amazonian Guiana Shield, questions the effectiveness of market-based policies that govern forests in the interest of mitigating climate change. The book interrogates the most ambitious global plan to incentivize people away from deforesting activities: the United Nations–endorsed Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) initiative. Forests of Refuge explores REDD+ in Guyana and neighboring Suriname, two highly forested countries in the Amazonian Guiana Shield with low deforestation rates. Yet REDD+ implementation there has been fraught with challenges. Adopting a multisited ethnographic approach, Forests of Refuge takes readers into the halls of policymaking, into conservation development organizations, and into forest-dependent communities most affected by environmental policies and exploitative colonial histories. This book situates these challenges in the inattentiveness of global environmental policies to roughly five hundred years of colonial histories that positioned the forests as places of refuge and resistance. It advocates that the fruits of these oppressive histories be reckoned with through processes of decolonization.

Ariadne is currently working on a project titled Towards a Political Ecology of Volume. The project investigates the sustainability and equity of governance structures and use practices of the Earth’s commons. It recognizes that the interdisciplinary subfield of political ecology is dedicated towards studying how political economic factors shape human-nature relationships, thereby demonstrating that what is commonly thought of as non-human nature is always co-constituted with social systems. Burgeoning research on volume, however, calls into question both longstanding environmental governance practices and the subfield of political ecology that studies them on account of political ecology’s dependence on a view of the Earth as two-dimensional, through a European, land-centred geographical imagination. Hence, Ariadne’s research aims to bring volume to political ecology, and political ecology to volumetric practices, at a critical time of global environmental change.

Ariadne was awarded a PhD (Summa cum laude) from Central European University in Budapest, Hungary in May, 2017. She holds a Masters in Research (Distinction) from the University of Westminster, London and a Bachelors from the University of Guyana. Prior to joining the University of St. Andrews, she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry in Berlin. She was also a visiting researcher at the Centre for Space, Place and Society at Wageningen University, the Netherlands.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Social Science, Environmental Science and Policy, Central European University

Award Date: 9 May 2017

Master of Research, International Environmental Policy and Politics, UNIVERSITY OF WESTMINSTER

Award Date: 30 Sept 2011

Bachelor of Science, International Relations, University of Guyana

Award Date: 30 Jun 2007

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