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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Unraveling the production of ignorance in climate policymaking: The imperative of a decolonial feminist intervention for transformation

Arora-Jonsson, Seema; Wahlstrom, Nora


Feminist decolonial scholars have called for disengaging from the current system built on a hierarchical logic of race and gender central to modern, colonial thinking. They have looked to worlds outside the modern system to lead us out of current unjust practices harming both humans and the environment. Although policymaking may be seen as the stronghold of the current political agenda and of the structures that have led to the climate crisis, we argue that climate policies too, are also crucial for rethinking and transforming societies. Our examination of climate adaptation policies in Sweden and the literature from Europe shows how policy documents ignore and unknow the oppressive intersections of gender and power despite the knowledge that exists on these issues in the public domain. Drawing on the tools of agnotology, we examine how this is achieved by strategies of 'denial, dismissal, diversion and displacement.' Building on feminist post and decolonial scholarship, we make explicit the gendered and racial hierarchies and dichotomies underpinning these policy documents. At the same time, we bring attention to the nuances in the policy documents we study and look for the openings that might be used to bring about transformation by making these hierarchies explicit and calling them into question. We argue that a transformation is possible through a feminist post and decolonial intervention, even in policymaking otherwise ignorant of culture, values and the colonial histories that have produced contemporary society.


Sweden; Climate adaptation; Policymaking; Agnotology; Construction of ignorance; Feminist decolonial thinking

Published in

Environmental Science and Policy
2023, Volume: 149, article number: 103564

      SLU Authors

    • Sustainable Development Goals

      Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
      Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
      Reduce inequality within and among countries

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Climate Research
      Gender Studies
      Social Anthropology

      Publication identifier


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