S.A. (Suvi) Alt, Dr
My research is situated at the intersections of environmental politics, development studies, and international political theory. The key problem that my research addresses is the entanglement of development and environmental politics with different forms of governance.
My main current research project focuses on the issue of biodiversity preservation in the context of the global politics of food production. More specifically, I am interested in the politics of seeds that centre on the contentious issue of the replacement of indigenous seeds by industrial varieties, which has been central to international agricultural development since the 1960s. My project examines how various actors in seed politics articulate their positions in ways that express different ways of understanding the end of the world (i.e., different eschatologies). The project maps how these eschatological views constitute different environmental, social, and political orders, understood as specific configurations of knowledge and power relations. Doing so, the project combines the crucial issue of food production in the time of great environmental change and the need to engage with questions concerning planetary extinction.
In another strand of research, I investigate the ways in which populations are governed through the discourse and practice of ‘human development’. Engaging with debates on biopolitics (i.e., the governing of life), the project develops a distinct theoretical approach for conceptualising biopolitics and its connection to development. This inquiry is informed by the need to re-evaluate both prevailing discourses of development and their existing biopolitical critiques. I seek to demonstrate that critiques of the biopolitics of development have tended to apply a fixed concept of biopolitics, thus not sufficiently reflecting on the historical and political specificities of what makes development a form of biopolitics.
Overall, my intellectual perspective is informed by continental political theory and its post/decolonial interlocutors. I am particularly interested in questions of transformation and transcendence as well as the politics of critique and affirmation. This broader theoretical interest is reflected throughout my engagement with development and environmental politics.
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