Embodied knowing for climate change adaptation interventions: moving beyond monitoring and evaluation in Thai Binh, Vietnam
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Climate change adaptation interventions (CCAIs) are being implemented in a variety of ways. Our current knowing on the effects of CCAIs is mostly based on scientific and rationalist practices that are prone to oversimplification and externally imposed priorities and knowledges about climate change. A number of scholars have already been critiquing these “realist” and neo-colonial approaches, but these critiques do not go far enough. This means we may frequently miss unexpected or localised aspects of adaptations, some of which may be useful beyond the local level. This thesis explores one alternative to our current approaches in order to better know the reality in relation to water-related CCAIs in the specific context of Thai Binh province Vietnam. From this knowing we can create possibilities or illuminate the pathways towards more appropriate climate change adaptation.
For this study I explore three experimental approaches including a postdevelopment perspectives, science and technology studies (STS) and the process of re-subjectification of researchers. The first approach expects to bring a rich description of the effects of developmentalist water-related CCAIs, which enables us in finding alternatives to climate change adaptation. The second approach follows the work of STS scholars in examining the ways we get to know reality, particularly current mainstream monitoring and evaluation (M&E) practices of CCAIs, which are dominated by scientific orientation. By exploring the process of applying these practices, I argue that there are always social and material constructions shaping M&E results, which then in turn form reality. This means that there are always politics and subjectivities present in the interactive process of forming and reforming the new realities which emerge from particular interventions and their monitoring and evaluation. This argument resonates to the third experimental approach by which I come to know and participate in forming new realities in relation to water-related CCAIs in Thai Binh, primarily through critically reflecting on my knowledge and subjectivity as a researcher, government official and citizen of Thai Binh.
Through this journey of experimentation, which draws on both my intellect and my subjectivity, the thesis proposes integrating an embodied approach into current practices of doing M&E and research for climate change adaptation work, particularly at the grassroots level. Applying an embodied approach, the realities of the effects of water-related CCAIs account for not only local physical and material changes but also the concerns, cares and other mundane sentiments of locals and ourselves as scholars. In addition, our practices always have politics to form particular reality; embodiment can thus be considered as an accessible tool for knowledge makers to propose meaningful and appropriate adaptation towards new climate-adapted worlds.