Dunne, Patricia Marie
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In transnational conservation initiatives that are dependent on heterogeneous networks of actors, the power to participate in decision making is increasingly affected by a politics of translation: that is, who has the power to define the terms, who has the power to use them, and whose voices are heard when decisions are made? International programs that address climate change, such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), have decentralized governance structures and led to greater dependence on transnational networks of actors to balance local knowledge and practice with global priorities. For the indigenous people, conservation practitioners, policy makers, and funders working to implement REDD+ in San Martin, Peru, effectively engaging in these networks is dependent on access to information and an in-depth understanding of key terms and concepts relating to climate change. In this dissertation, I trace the movement of information about climate change through networks of actors at the local and regional levels in San Martin, at the national level in Lima, and the international level in the United States, to understand how knowledge is translated, used, and transformed, and in the process, how it shapes participation. Multi-sited fieldwork in San Martin, Lima, and Washington, DC has included participant observation at key meetings, interviews, and social network analysis. The results of this research indicate that while transnational NGOs are critical to facilitating the movement of information among a broad range of actors working at different scales, they also play a disproportionate role in decision-making networks at the regional scale. It also indicates that while conceptions of key terms related to climate change are shaped by educational experience, linguistic ability, and access to information, traditional knowledge remains poorly integrated into REDD+ initiatives. Finally, it indicates that while the ability to appropriate and use key western scientific terms is a major factor in participation, the dynamic relationship between scientific and traditional knowledge remains poorly understood by conservation practitioners. A greater awareness of the politics of translation in conservation will enable actors to develop more equitable participation processes and, in turn, more effective conservation initiatives that better integrate global conservation priorities with local needs.