Networked knowledge(s)?: Forest certification and the politics of expertise in Malaysia
AuthorLewis, Robin Anne
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe proliferation of market-based policy instruments for governing the global forest commons has resulted in a proposed internationalization of the institutional arrangements, policy standards, and certification practices for assessing the ‘quality’ of forest management systems worldwide. Yet, like other global environmental governance systems before it, proposals for a universalized approach to forest certification have yet to come to fruition. Drawing on insights provided by Malaysia’s efforts to develop and operationalize the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS), I argue that standardization of forest certification systems worldwide is an unlikely and, more importantly, undesirable approach to forest governance. The central findings of this dissertation are thus as follows: 1) Despite many ‘on paper’ changes, the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) remains the most powerful actor within the MTCS. As an end result of an uneven distribution of rulemaking authority within the MTCS, the quasi state MTCC continues to dominate a distinctively monopolar MTCS institutional environment; 2) The current configuration of organizations involved in the day-to-day operations of the MTCS is reliant on a small, insular and tight knit group of similarly trained individuals who rely upon a single episteme that elevates state-conferred knowledge above all other ways of knowing; and, 3) Despite this state-derived episteme being a central component of the MTCS epistemic community, the audit process is far more ad hoc than planned. Instead of following a bureaucraticallyprescribed checklist approach to auditing, MTCS auditors simultaneously draw on the technical skill set that auditing demands (technê) and a more localized and contingent performance of their expertise (mētis) in order to make informed judgments. In summary, the MTCC and its scheme represent a highly contextualized approach to forest certification that values national priorities and local circumstances over international standards and norms. As a result, the case of Malaysia’s national forest certification scheme simultaneously challenges the state-derived episteme through which forestry experts are professionalized and, more broadly, the notion that forest certification systems can ever be fully standardized.
Degree ProgramGraduate College