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Elise was a PhD candidate in Environmental Studies. She successfully defended her PhD in November 2019.

A human geographer with one foot in political theory, she is interested in how society can anticipate and respond to climate change and other environmental stressors in equitable and sustainable ways. Elise has worked for several years on environmental policy and governance, designing and conducting policy relevant research in the field of climate change and sustainable development. Her research has centred on different aspects of climate adaptation and social vulnerability, including assessing livelihood security among vulnerable communities, issues of environmental migration, social equity and gender, as well as the allocation and governance of international climate finance for adaptation. She has also worked on more general conceptual explorations of issues including the monitoring and evaluation of adaptation initiatives and the possibility of adaptation redistributing vulnerability rather than reducing it.

Elise holds a Masters degree in Geography with a major in climate change, and a dual Bachelor in Social- and Cultural Anthropology and Geography. Prior to her PhD candidature at Södertörn Elise was a Research Associate at the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Sweden. She has conducted research in Kenya, Colombia, Fiji and Sweden.


Situated in the wider field of environmental politics, Elise s thesis project follows on from earlier scholarly work broadly concerned with the construction and narration of environmental problems. Drawing on Poststructuralist Discourse Theory (Laclau and Mouffe 1985 and beyond) and the so-called ‘Logics of Critical Explanation’ (Glynos and Howarth 2007) in particular, her thesis critically examines the central assumptions related to climate adaptation. At its core it is about how the notion of ‘adaptation’ is conceptualized and defined in policy and practice, and the politics involved in the choices and articulations of what adaptation entails. The interest is in the ways certain constructions open up, or limit policy responses with various political – and often depoliticising – effects. The particular empirical
focus is on the negotiation over what it means to ‘do adaptation’ and especially what happens at the intersection between public discourses and practice – the policy, planning and implementation of adaptation – in the European context. As such, her research questions target both a scientific and a policy-relevant contribution to the puzzle of how we (as a society) can pursue sustainable development. In addition, Elise is interested in whether interventions to promote adaptation are in fact resulting in overall improvements, or whether they are instead simply redistributing welfare outcomes from one region, or group, to another.

Research interests

Elise s current research interests include:

  • The politics of climate adaptation;
  • Climate adaptation policy and decision-making;
  • Poststructuralist Discourse Theory and analysis;
  • Political Ecology;
  • Unintended policy effects;
  • Social vulnerability; and
  • Social equity dimensions of adaptation.

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