Working Paper 201

From Colonialism to Collaboration: disputing biofuels in the age of the Anthropocene 

Matthew Canfield  

Department ‘Law & Anthropology’

Year of publication

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Working Paper 201

Biofuels are a major source of conflict in debates over global food and energy security. In the face of climate change, biofuels are being promoted as a new form of “green energy.” However, transnational agrarian movements argue that biofuels exacerbate global food insecurity by lowering global food stocks and increasing global food prices. To manage this conflict, new arenas of multi-stakeholder, collaborative governance have proliferated on multiple political scales. This paper examines the emergence of collaborative governance within the historical context of shifting global arrangements of food and energy production, or what I term “energopolitical regimes.” Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the UN Committee on World Food Security, I argue that collaboration is emerging as a contested regulatory ideology in the age of the Anthropocene. As actors engage in collaboration in the face of shifting environmental-human relations, they face new political and ethical dilemmas.

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