Pamela D. McElwee

Pamela D. McElwee
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey | Rutgers · Department of Human Ecology

Ph.D.

About

88
Publications
45,184
Reads
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2,017
Citations
Introduction
My interests are in global environmental problems, particularly biodiversity conservation, forest & landscape management, and climate change. I am most interested in how individuals and households respond to changes in the physical environment, and how their responses are shaped by external policies and other constraints. Most of my research combines household-level analysis of environmental decision-making and resource use with studies of global policy and norms. I primarily work in Asia.
Additional affiliations
July 2011 - present
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
January 2006 - May 2011
Arizona State University
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
Education
September 1996 - December 2003
Yale University
Field of study
  • Forestry & Environmental Studies and Anthropology

Publications

Publications (88)
Book
Full-text available
Forests Are Gold examines the management of Vietnam's forests in the tumultuous twentieth century―from French colonialism to the recent transition to market-oriented economics―as the country united, prospered, and transformed people and landscapes. Forest policy has rarely been about ecology or conservation for nature's sake, but about managing cit...
Article
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The Red River Delta (RRD) of Vietnam, one of the world's most densely populated deltas, is already vulnerable to flooding events, and climate change forecasts project increased exposure to flood risk in coming decades due to changes in rainfall, storm intensity and frequency, and sea level rise. However, there is a relative neglect of this region i...
Article
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1. There have been calls for greater inclusion of Indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) in applied ecosystems research and ecological assessments. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment (GA) is the first assessment to systematically work with ILK and issues of concern to Indigen...
Article
Interlocked challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and land degradation require transformative interventions in the land management and food production sectors to reduce carbon emissions, strengthen adaptive capacity, and increase food security. However, deciding which interventions to pursue and understanding their relative co‐benefits wi...
Article
Vietnam has adopted a national Payment for Forest Environmental Services (PES) policy, which while primarily paying individual households for forest protection, has been flexible enough to allow for collective PES models to also arise. Such collective models have the potential to reduce transaction costs, avoid motivation crowding, and protect comm...
Article
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Transformative governance is key to addressing the global environmental crisis. We explore how transformative governance of complex biodiversity–climate–society interactions can be achieved, drawing on the first joint report between the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and E...
Article
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Studies of Indigenous environmental knowledge (IEK) provide valuable information helpful for resource management, yet there remain gaps for many countries. This paper reviews the literature on IEK in Vietnam across key areas, including ethnobiological studies, customary law, applied agricultural research, and management of natural resources for a r...
Article
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Cultural ecosystem services (CES) provide multiple benefits to people, including experiences, identities, and capabilities through both material and non-material means. There have been few studies of CES in Vietnam, despite a number of historical, religious, cultural, and customary traditions that have long influenced landscape values and managemen...
Chapter
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Over fifty years of global conservation has failed to bend the curve of biodiversity loss, so we need to transform the ways we govern biodiversity. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity aims to develop and implement a transformative framework for the coming decades. However, the question of what transformative biodiversity governance entails an...
Article
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The knowledge, values, and practices of Indigenous peoples and local communities offer ways to understand and better address social-environmental problems. The article reviews the state of the literature on this topic by focusing on six pathways by which Indigenous peoples and local communities engage with management of and relationships to nature....
Article
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As the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration begins, there remains insufficient emphasis on the human and social dimensions of restoration. The potential that restoration holds for achieving both ecological and social goals can only be met through a shift towards people-centered restoration strategies. Towards this end, this paper synthesizes critical...
Article
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This special issue provides an assessment of the contribution of soils to Nature's Contributions to People (NCP). Here, we combine this assessment and previously published relationships between NCP and delivery on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to infer contributions of soils to the SDGs. We show that in addition to contributing positi...
Article
This paper reviews the literature on soil and nature's contributions to people (NCP) around learning and inspiration, physical and psychological experiences, and supporting identities, revealing a range of relationships to imagining, understanding and experiencing soil. Often labelled elsewhere as ‘cultural ecosystem services’, these NCP provide a...
Article
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While there is much debate on transformative change among academics and policymakers, the discussion on how to govern such change is still in its infancy. This article argues that transformative governance is needed to enable the transformative change necessary for achieving global sustainability goals. Based on a literature review, the article unp...
Technical Report
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The Scientific Outcome was produced by participants in the first-ever IPCC-IPBES co-sponsored workshop which took place in December 2020. This workshop is placed in the context of recent international agreements including the Paris Agreement, the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and ongoing preparation for the post-2020 global biodiversi...
Article
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In recent decades, Vietnam has embarked on several ambitious projects, including restoration of coastal mangroves and the expansion of national forest cover through large-scale tree planting efforts. Much of the work is being carried out by individual households, who now likely control a majority of planted productive forest land. Yet despite the s...
Preprint
While there is much debate on transformative change among academics and policymakers, the discussion on how to govern such change is still in its infancy. This article argues that transformative governance is needed to enable the transformative change necessary for achieving global sustainability goals. Based on a literature review, the article unp...
Article
Full-text available
The Convention on Biological Diversity is defining the goals that will frame future global biodiversity policy in a context of rapid biodiversity decline and under pressure to make transformative change. Drawing on the work of Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, we argue that transformative change requires the foregrounding of Indigenous people...
Article
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The COVID‐19 pandemic, its impact on the global economy, and current delays in the negotiation of the post‐2020 global biodiversity agenda of the Convention on Biological Diversity heighten the urgency to build back better for biodiversity, sustainability, and well‐being. In 2019, the Intergovernmental Science‐Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ec...
Article
This essay advances the argument for James C. Scott as a preeminent political ecologist, despite the fact that he has not claimed such a title for himself. While he is variously described as an (errant) political scientist, an (adopted) anthropologist, and a (most of the time) Southeast Asianist, he has not usually been called a card-carrying polit...
Article
The purportedly irreconcilable aims of “area studies” versus formal disciplines are a long-standing concern. In reality, their objectives are often inseparable, and approaches that start from and center a region have strongly contributed to theory building within disciplines. Few social scientists have been so productive in building bridges between...
Article
A COVID-19 járvány világszerte drámai és soha nem látott hatást gyakorolt az egészségügyre és a gazdaságra. Sok kormány gazdasági mentőcsomagot állít össze, hogy segítse a normális működéshez való visszatérést, ám az IPBES (Biológiai Sokféleség és Ökoszisztéma-szolgáltatás Kormányközi Testület) 2019-ben elfogadott Globális Felmérése szerint a gazda...
Chapter
Full-text available
Including local and indigenous knowledge in the work of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment: Outcomes and lessons for the future.
Article
Climate anthropology has broadened over the past decade from predominately locally focused studies on climate impacts to encompass new approaches to climate science, mitigation, sustainability transformations, risks, and resilience. We examine how theoretical positionings, including from actor–network theory, new materialisms, ontologies, and cosmo...
Article
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused dramatic and unprecedented impacts on both global health and economies. Many governments are now proposing recovery packages to get back to normal, but the 2019 Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Global Assessment indicated that business as usual has created widespread...
Article
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There has been a rapid expansion in the use of payments for environmental services (PES) as a key conservation policy. However, there is insufficient understanding of how gender can affect PES implementation and outcomes. We present results from a case study in Vietnam, where a national PES program has been in place for a decade. Through panel hous...
Preprint
Full-text available
Agricultural production through swidden cultivation, mostly practiced by ethnic minority groups, has long been an important socio-ecological system in much of the uplands of Vietnam. Yet despite the importance of swidden for the livelihoods of millions of people, this form of cultivation has long been viewed as incompatible with state goals for dev...
Preprint
Full-text available
In recent decades, Vietnam has embarked on several ambitious restoration projects, including restoration of coastal mangroves and the expansion of national forest cover through large-scale tree planting efforts. The country has pledged to restore or replant over 16 million hectares of forests overall, one of the largest commitments in the world. Mu...
Article
Arcadia: Explorations in Environmental History, vol 20 (spring), Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society. http://www.environmentandsociety.org/node/9039.
Article
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This Guidance for using the IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions accompanies the Global Standard to provide the scientific basis and guidance for users.
Article
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The IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions lists the Criteria and Indicators, as adopted by the 98th Meeting of the IUCN Council in 2020.
Article
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Political leaders once again failed to commit to adequate action against climate change, but its increasingly visible impacts have galvanized citizen activists.
Preprint
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One of the most important and least understood aspects of the Vietnam War is the role of the so-called Ho Chi Minh Trail, by which the North provided material and supplies to fight against the Americans in the South. Although often envisioned as a single jungle path, in fact the Ho Chi Minh trail was a complicated network of supply chains, some on...
Article
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Indigenous Peoples worldwide are confronted by the increasing threat of pollution. Based on a comprehensive review of the literature (N = 686 studies), we present the current state of knowledge on i) the exposure and vulnerability of Indigenous Peoples to pollution; ii) the environmental, health and cultural impacts of pollution upon Indigenous Peo...
Article
Local attitudes towards wildlife encompass environmental, political, sociocultural and psychological dimensions that shape human-wildlife interactions and conservation efforts. Although the political and sociocultural dimensions of these interactions have been extensively examined by political ecologists and cultural anthropologists, psychological...
Article
Full-text available
Vietnam has had a national Payments for Forest Environmental Services (PFES) policy in place since 2010, which transfers money for forest protection from water and energy users to households who live in upland watersheds. However, despite a loose resemblance to general Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) principles, implementation in Vietnam diff...
Article
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Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) initiatives, which provide financial incentives for management practices thought to increase the production of environmental benefits, have expanded across the global South since the late 1990s. These initiatives have thus far been conceptualized rather narrowly; by their early proponents as a novel economic in...
Article
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There is a clear need for transformative change in the land management and food production sectors to address the global land challenges of climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, combatting land‐degradation and desertification, and delivering food security (referred to hereafter as “land challenges”). We assess the potential for 40 p...
Chapter
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This is the Summary for Policy Makers of the IPCC Special Report on Land and Climate Change, as approved by the IPCC member countries at the Plenary in Geneva, Aug 2-7 2019.
Preprint
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This document is chapter 6 (Option for decision makers) of the IPBES Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (2019). In response to the interconnected challenges of sustainable development, biodiversity conservation, and climate change identified in previous chapters, chapter 6 organizes its analysis on the options for decision mak...
Article
Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLC) are affected by global environmental change because they directly rely on their immediate environment for meeting basic livelihood needs. Therefore, safeguarding and restoring ecosystem resilience is critical to support their wellbeing. Based on examples from the literature, we illustrate how IPLC par...
Article
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In this commentary we respond to Fletcher and Büscher's (2017) recent article in this journal on Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) as neoliberal ‘conceit’. The authors claim that focusing attention on the micro-politics of PES design and implementation fails to expose an underlying neoliberal governmentality, and therefore only reinforces neoli...
Article
In this commentary we respond to Fletcher and Büscher's (2017) recent article in this journal on Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) as neoliberal ‘conceit’. The authors claim that focusing attention on the micro-politics of PES design and implementation fails to expose an underlying neoliberal governmentality, and therefore only reinforces neoli...
Article
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Vietnam provides a compelling case study in the problems that nations face in overcoming widespread vulnerabilities to climate change, enabling adaptation through policy and planning, and assisting millions of citizens to become more resilient. Overall, the country has requested international pledges and earmarked national funding of more than $7 b...
Article
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Ecosystem services (ES) are increasingly used as the driver for conservation and development actions, largely following from the influential Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report of 2005. Scholars skeptical of the neoliberal turn in conservation have critiqued the use of economic values for nature’s services. What has been less well understood and...
Article
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Attention has recently been paid to how REDD+ mitigation policies are integrated into other sectoral policies, particularly those dealing with climate adaptation at the national level. But there is less understanding of how subnational policy and local projects are able to incorporate attention to adaptation; therefore, we use a case study in Vietn...
Presentation
Full-text available
Abstract: Environmental rule occurs when states, organizations, or individuals use environmental or ecological reasons as justification for what is really a concern with social planning, and thereby intervene in such disparate areas as land ownership, population settlement, labor availability, or markets. Imposing a vision on landscapes has always...
Chapter
Attention to climate now dominates much of the global discussion about conservation issues in tropical countries, particularly forests and biodiversity, as well as poverty and development concerns. One of the most prominent options is a policy for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) to tackle land-use generated carbon emiss...
Article
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Castree et al.(2014) are correct that a ‘single, seamless concept of integrated knowledge’ cannot do justice to the diversity of meanings that need to be brought to bear in addressing the challenges of global environmental change. We also agree with them that environmental social sciences and humanities (ESSH) can make important contributions to gl...
Article
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Understanding the challenge that climate change poses and crafting appropriate adaptation and mitigation mechanisms requires input from the breadth of the natural and social sciences. Anthropology's in-depth fieldwork methodology, long engagement in questions of society–environment interactions and broad, holistic view of society yields valuable in...
Article
Southeast Asia. Powers of exclusion: Land dilemmas in Southeast Asia. By HallDerek, HirschPhilip and Murray LiTania. Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2011. Pp. 257. Figures, Maps, Bibliography, Index. - Volume 43 Issue 3 - Pamela McElwee
Article
Recently in Vietnam, a coalition of international NGOs, donors and government officials have been promoting market-based forest conservation projects in the form of payments for environmental services (PES) as a win–win for both conservation and development objectives; Vietnam is now the first country in Southeast Asia with a national law on PES. T...
Article
Full-text available
An important aspect to remember in the study of gender is that it is not just about women. That is, analyses of the role of gender in environmental problems and sustainability, as this book has focused on, should ideally outline the differential roles of both men and women and highlight areas in which there is strong stratification between genders...
Article
This is one of the first books to address how gender plays a role in helping to achieve the sustainable use of natural resources. The contributions collected here deal with the struggles of women and men to negotiate such forces as global environmental change, economic development pressures, discrimination and stereotyping about the roles of women...
Article
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This article examines the use of forests in a protected area by nearby agriculturalists in central Vietnam. Research indicates that the majority of rural farmers interviewed who lived near a state designated protected area were receiving both subsistence and cash incomes from forest-based activities, primarily from the collection of forest products...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, forestry has been strongly promoted by the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam through large-scale projects to rehabilitate and reforest millions of hectares of land. One project to reforest 5 million hectares has received hundreds of millions of US dollars for implementation. Yet based on a case study in one area of no...
Article
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Vietnam was largely divided between lowland-dwelling Vietnamese [Kinh] and a variety of ethnic groups living in the highlands. Yet by the close of the century, these ethnic minorities were far outnumbered by Kinh in most upland areas, thanks to extensive migration programs. This article looks at Kinh migra...
Article
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Much research has focused on understanding the importance of forest environmental income in different communities and highlighting key socioeconomic characteristics of forest-dependent households. This paper examines the economic importance of forests among rural agriculturalists in Vietnam. Data were collected through a questionnaire survey of 104...
Article
This paper revisits themes from a classic text on Vietnam, The Moral Economy of the Peasant (1976), by James C. Scott. Fieldwork undertaken in Nghêê Tĩĩnh provides a contemporary re-examination of some of the key premises of Scott's book. The article argues that a "moral economy" that guarantees a right to subsistence, based on normative values and...
Article
"The issues concerning displacement and relocation from protected areas that Rangarajan and Shahabuddin (this issue) describe for India are no confined to South Asia: far from it. These trends are also happening in Southeast Asia, across a range of countries of different political stripes. Policies to impose new parks or strengthen enforcement at e...
Article
The North Vietnamese Army considered the Ho Chi Minh Trail a key part of their victory during the Vietnam War against the United States. The trail was often defended by encouraging large numbers of lowland Vietnamese villagers to show their patriotism by moving to the uplands. Ho Chi Minh himself said of the enormous task of making the trail, ‘Ther...
Article
Full-text available
Vietnam is estimated to have lost more than half of its forest cover in the past 50 years, with a number of contributing causes. The state nationalization of all forest resources during socialist rule from 1954 to the opening of the economy in the 1980s contributed significantly to illegal logging, as any locally-used forest was considered to be na...
Article
"Understanding what is meant by the 'tragedy of the commons' in relation to commonly owned property is fundamental to understanding resource and development economics. Far from being a tragedy, however, common property actually provides many economic, social and political benefits to users. Users of common property organise themselves in various wa...
Article
Note: this is a drafty chapter for a book I am writing on successive waves of approaches to biodiversity conservation and forest politics in Vietnam, which combines material from an article that will be coming out in Geoforum later this year on payments for environmental services (PES) in Vietnam with additional work I have been doing over the last...