dr.ir. S (Severine) van Bommel

dr.ir. S (Severine) van Bommel

Associate professor

I am an interpretive researcher with an interest in the meaning of experts and expertise in natural resource management (NRM) and its performative effects. I teach graduate and post-graduate courses (Analysing discourse, Critical reflections on research design in development practice and Dilemmas in fieldwork and research ethics), supervise students and conduct research.  I work in an applied, interdisciplinary and collaborative manner.

Passionate about planetary health, I am fascinated by the puzzle of how we can learn our way out of the complex social - environmental pathologies facing our increasingly interconnected and globalised world. Spanning the biophysical and social, my work critically engages human - environment relations in these settings, inspired by insights from interpretive policy analysis, feminist theoretical approaches, post-colonialism and science and technology studies.

Taking an interpretive approach, I am interested in how actors in interaction 1) give meaning to events from their own perspectives, in light of their own experiences; 2) engage with forests, wildlife management, climate change and so on; and 3) act upon, shape and re-shape policy, technology and/or market. The engagement with what is meaningful to actors, and how those meanings - often plural, at times clashing - are enacted, as well as the consequences of this, lies at the heart of my work. Recently, I have become interested in intersubjectivities as a way to push the boundaries interpretive approaches and reconfigure the politics of life in the worlds that we inhabit.

In empirical terms, my most significant work has been on NRM experts and expertise (knowledge controversies, environmental standards, extreme citizen science) and interpretive research methods and methodology (narrative turn in research methodology, dilemmas in fieldwork). I have researched these topics for over 15 years in various parts of the world. My publications include the co-edited books Forest-People Interfaces (Wageningen Academic Publishers 2012) and Forest and Nature Governance: a Practice based Approach (Springer 2013).

In practice, inspired by principles of deep democracy and nonviolent conflict resolution, when possible I move beyond explanation to an intervention of some sort intended to improve the situation, such as for marginalised actors. Many of my projects are embedded in various international networks such as the Interpretive Policy Analysis network, IFSA (International Farming Systems Association) and the international network of nonviolent communication practitioners.