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Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)

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Dr Véra Ehrenstein

Research Theme: Turbulence

Véra Ehrenstein’s research engages with what it means to live in the turbulent era one might call the Anthropocene. Her work focuses more specifically on how tropical forests have come to be of global significance due to their capacity to store carbon and counterbalance fossil fuels’ emissions responsible for climate change. Véra is particularly interested in the ways in which the tension between protecting the forest as an active carbon sink and exploiting it for development purposes (e.g. logging, fuel wood, agriculture) plays out in the Congo basin region. Her research project at the IAS revolves around the politics of carbon measurements. Based on multi-sited fieldwork, Véra proposes to examine how scientists in Europe investigate the forest’s behaviour in the Congo basin, in particular its carbon storage properties, and how this scientific activity relates, not without trouble, to policy reform, development projects, business ventures, and environmental activism in Gabon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Véra graduated from a French engineering school before doing a PhD in Science and Technology Studies at the Centre for the Sociology of Innovation of the Ecole des Mines de Paris. Her doctoral research analysed the United Nations negotiation process on climate change and the controversial involvement of tropical forests in carbon offsetting activities. In 2014, Véra joined Goldsmiths College to work on a research project on the use of market-based interventions in public policy. A co-authored book (with Daniel Neyland and Sveta Milyaeva), provisionally titled Can Markets Solve Problems?, is under preparation. Véra has published articles in Economy and Society, Journal of Cultural Economy and Revue française de sociologie.