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Seema Arora-Jonsson

Seema Arora Jonsson
Professor,  Rural Development in Sweden and Europe.


At the center of my research and teaching interests is a critical engagement with theories of rural development, environmental governance and gender. At the moment I am working on three interrelated themes: New Rural Governance: Changing Relations of Democracy, Global Environmental Governance and People's Everyday Citizenship and the role of Rural and Natural Resource Bureaucracies in  development. These themes are all shaped by the need to examine rural development in its specific and the particular situation, but in the context of wider transnational currents and relations. Questions of gender, race, ethnicity, class and geography are central to my analyses.  Issues of research approach engage me a) the doing of the research - participatory research, ethics and b) analytically – analyzing environmental questions in a North-South perspective in the globalizing context of environmental governance.

The recorded inauguration lecture in March 2019 »

The presentation film »


I teach on gender, development and environment as well as qualitative and participatory methods at different levels – undergraduate, master and postgraduate.

Coordinator for the Ph.D course, Gender, Development and Environmental Governance offered at our department. Next course: Autumn 2019.


In the Formas financed project, Re-structuring the Rural North: Tensions and prospects for Sustainable Development, we investigate how initiatives for intensified resource extraction are restructuring rural spaces and leading to new forms of governance in the global North. We  employ a cross national comparison of mining initiatives in Sweden and Canada, that share several geographical, resource, economic, and social characteristics, but differ markedly in terms of indigenous government. Identifying practical strategies for sustainable development in the two places, the research  contributes to the creation of policy strategies that balance international and national energy needs with environmental and local community sustainability.

In the project Gender and Sustainable Development: Policy and Practice in Environmental Management financed by the Swedish Research Council, Vetenskapsrådet, I contrast domestic environmental policy-making and practice in Sweden with Swedish development aid policy and examine why popular participation and gender that are promoted in development aid are sidelined in domestic forest policy. I theorize the different influences and political and moral assumptions that shape policy with regard to gender and participation in domestic Swedish policy and in its policy abroad.


Recently concluded projects:

Gender and Ethnicity in Swedish Rural Development (financed by Formas)

Gender and REDD+: Global Instruments and Changing Environmental Governance (financed by Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Gendered Structures of Climate Change (financed by Vetenskapsrådet/Formas)



I supervise master and phd students.

Phd supervision on:

1. Gender Equality and Meritocracy. Contradictory discourses in the academy: Stina Powell, March 2016. 

2. Women's cattle ownership in Botswana: rebranding gender relations? Andrea Pettit, April 2016.

3. Turning the Tables on REDD+ : Gender, Forests and Climate Policy in Burkian Faso, Lisa Westholm, defending 2017.

4. Financialization of Natural Resources: The Case of Mining in Northern Sweden, Katarina Landström, ongoing.

5. Mines, discourses and micro-politics of environmental governance in a local community, Arvid Stiernström, ongoing.



6. Swedish Forest Policy and Global Influences, Department of Forest Products, SLU. Sara Holmgren, May, 2015.

7. The role of women in shaping the built environment in informal settlements in urban Uganda, Department of Architecture, Makerere University, Uganda/ Department of Urban and Rural Development, SLU. Eiman Alwida. Defending: 2016. 

Selected publications

 International Peer-reviewed journal publications

1. Seema Arora-Jonsson and Bimbika Basnet-Sijapati, “Disciplining Gender in Environmental Organizations: Mainstreaming and Writing Differently for Sustainability” Gender, Work and Organization. doi:10.1111/gwao.12195

2. Elizabeth McLeod, Seema Arora-Jonsson et al, Raising the voices of Pacific Island women to inform climate adaptation policies,’ in Marine Policy, 98, p.178-185, 2018.

3. Lisa Westholm and Seema Arora-Jonsson, 'What room for politics and change in global climate governance? Addressing gender in co-benefits and safeguards' in Environmental Politics, 2018.

4. Seema Arora-Jonsson, “Blind spots in environmental policy-making: How beliefs about science and development may jeopardize environmental solutions,” World Development Perspectives, 5 (27-29), 2017.

5. Seema Arora-Jonsson, “Integration and Development at a Crossroads: Culture, Race and Ethnicity in Rural Sweden, Environment and Planning A, 2017

6. Seema Arora-Jonsson, “The realm of freedom in new rural governance: Micro-politics of democracy in Sweden,” Geoforum, 79 (58-69) 2017.

 7. Marlène Elias and Seema Arora-Jonsson, “Negotiating Across Difference: Dispossession and Empowerment in the Shea Value Chain,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 35(1) 107–125. 2017.

8. Seema Arora-Jonsson, Policy Discourses and Marginal Places: Histories of Environmental Democracy in India and Sweden, Social Sciences, 6 (1) 33, 2017.

9. Seema Arora-Jonsson, “Does Resilience have a culture? Ecocultures and the Politics of Knowledge Production,” Ecological Economics, 121 (98-107) 2016.

 10. Seema Arora-Jonsson, Lisa Westholm, Beatus John Temu and Andrea Pettit, “Carbon and Cash in Climate Assemblages: The Making of a New Global Citizenship,” Antipode, 48 (1) 74-96.  2016.

 11. Lisa Westholm and Seema Arora-Jonsson, “Defining solutions, finding problems: deforestation, gender and REDD+ in Burkina Faso,” Conservation and Society, 13 (2) 2015.

12. Sara Holmgren and Seema Arora-Jonsson, “The Forest Kingdom – With What Values for the World? Gender equality and climate change in a new Swedish forest policy context,” Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research, 30:3 (235-245) 2015.

 13. Seema Arora-Jonsson, “Forty years of gender research and environmental policy: where do we stand” Women’s Studies International Forum, 47 (295-308). 2014. 

14. Seema Arora-Jonsson, “Virtue and Vulnerability: Discourses on women, gender and climate change” Global Environmental Change, 21:744-751. 2011. Also translated into French (see below).

15. Seema Arora-Jonsson, “Particular and wider interests in natural resource management: Organizing together but separately” in Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research, 25 (Suppl. 9): 33-44.2010. 

16. Seema Arora-Jonsson, “Discordant Connections: Discourses on Gender and Grassroots Activism in Forest Communities in India and Sweden” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, vol. 35, no. 1. 2009.

Article awarded the Catherine Stimpson prize for outstanding feminist scholarship.

Also translated into Swedish:

17.  Seema Arora-Jonsson, “Disharmoniska förbindelser: Diskurser om genus och gräsrotsaktivism i två skogssamhällen i Indien och Sverige,” Tidskrift för Genusvetenskap, 46 (1) 2016.

18.  Seema Arora-Jonsson, ”Bortom den rätta frågan. Metodologiska innebörder av att forska tillsammans” (Beyond the right question: Methodological Implications of doing research together), Tidskrift för Genusvetenskap (Journal of Gender Research), nr. 2, 2008.

19.  Seema Arora-Jonsson, “Relational Dynamics and Strategies: Men and Women in a Forest Community in Sweden,” Agriculture and Human Values, Volume 21, Issue 4, 2004.


1. Seema Arora-Jonsson, Gender, Development and Environmental Governance: Theorizing Connections, Routledge, London/New York. 2013.

2. Andrea Cornwall, Katja Jassey, Seema Arora-Jonsson and Patta Scott-Villiers, The Beast of Bureaucracy and other tales from Valhalla, Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, 2007. (Booklet)


 Book chapters:

1. Seema Arora-Jonsson, "Across the Development Divide: A North-South Perspective on Environmental Democracy" in Terry Marsden (ed) Sage Handbook of Nature, Vol 2, pgs 737-760, 2018.

2. Seema Arora-Jonsson, “Gender Research and Environmental Policy” in Sherilyn MacGregor (ed.) Routledge International Handbook of Gender and Environment, 2017. 

3.  Seema Arora-Jonsson, “Vertu et vulnérabilité: Les discours sur les femmes, le genre et le changement climatique” in Anne-Marie Devreux (ed), Les Sciences et le Genre: Déjouer l’androcentrisme. Pgs. 81-95. Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2016.

4. Stina Powell and Seema Arora-Jonsson, “The ethics of political correctness” in Keerty Nakray, Margaret Alston and Kerri Whittenbury (eds), Understanding Social Science Research Ethics: Inter-disciplinary and Cross-Cultural Perspectives for a Globalising World, Pgs. 112-139. Routledge, 2015.

5. Seema Arora-Jonsson, “Beyond Knowledge and Information: Making sense of local governance”, in Rigling Gallagher, Deborah (ed.) Environmental Leadership: A Reference Handbook, Pgs. 808-814. Sage Publications. 2012.

6. Seema Arora-Jonsson, “A different vantage point: decentralization, women’s organizing and local forest management” in Carol Colfer, Ganga Dahal and Doris Capistrano (eds.) Lessons from Forest Decentralization: Money, Justice and the Quest for Good Governance in the Asia-Pacific, pgs. 49-65. Earthscan, London. 2008.

7. Seema Arora-Jonsson, “Shifting images of the community: gender and the local management of forests”, in Ildiko Astalos och Bettina Bock (eds.), Gender Regimes, citizen participation and rural restructuring, Pgs. 317-342. Elsevier, Oxford/Amsterdam/San Diego. 2008.

8. Seema Arora-Jonsson, “’Women are like boats’: Discourse, policy and collective action” in Naila Kabeer and Agneta Stark (eds.) Global Perspectives on Nordic Approaches to Gender Equality. Routledge, London/New York. 2008.

9. Seema Arora-Jonsson,  “‘Research sounds so big’…Collaborative inquiry with women in Drevdagen” in Louise Fortmann (ed.) Participatory Research in Conservation: Doing Science Together, pgs. 130-145. Blackwell-Wiley. 2008.

10. Seema Arora-Jonsson et al, “Lessons from the case-studies” in Louise Fortmann (ed.) Participatory Research in Conservation: Doing Science Together, pgs. 245-263. Blackwell-Wiley. 2008.

11. Seema Arora-Jonsson, ”Att forska tillsammans” in Britta Wingård och Lars Holmstrand (eds.) Livslångtnyfikenhet – Festskrift till Gunilla Härnsten, Lärarhögskolans Förlag, Stockholm. 2006. 

12. Seema Arora-Jonsson and Andrea Cornwall, “Making Connections: Learning about Participation in a Large Aid Bureaucracy” in Rosalind Eyben (ed.), Relationships for Aid, Pgs. 80-93, Earthscan, London/Sterling/VA. 2006. 

13. Seema Arora-Jonsson, “Globalisation, Rurality and Women, Some thoughts on women’s organizing in Sweden and India” in Kjell Havnevik, Tekeste Negash and Atakilte Beyene (eds.) Of Global Concern: Rural Livelihood Dynamics and Natural Resource Governance, Sida Studies, no. 16, Stockholm. 2006.


 Report (in Swedish):

Katarina Pettersson and Seema Arora-Jonsson, Den osynliga entreprenören: Genus och företagande i de gröna näringarna En litteratur översikt (The invisible entrepreneur: Gender in the green industries and enterprise, A literature review), Report for LRFs Jämställdhetsakademi (Federation of Swedish Farmers’ Academy for Gender Equality), 2009. 


Theses (Monographs)

Unsettling the Order: Gendered Subjects and Grassroots Activism in Two Forest Communities, Doctoral Thesis No. 2005:70. Faculty of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences. June, 2005.

Constructive Politics in Orissa: Gandhian Organizations and their Legacy, Unpublished Master of Philosophy dissertation (M.Phil). Department of History. University of Delhi, India. March, 1995. 


Popular Science Articles:

1. “Some thoughts on gender, women and climate change,” Journal of Nordregio, No. 4, December, 2009. 

2. “Where is the gender in climate change?” Geography and You ( September-October, 2009.

3. “Networking for dialogue and action, An example from the Forests Trees and People Programme”, Forests Trees and People Newsletter, No.40/41, December 1999 / January 2000.

4. Debate article in national daily:


Recent book: Gender, Development and Environmental Governance: Theorizing Connections:

<a href="">Seema Arora-Jonsson on ResearchGate</a>




Professor at the Department of Urban and Rural Development; Division of Rural Development
Telephone: +4618671192, +46705149497
Postal address:
Inst för stad och land, Box 7012
Visiting address: Ulls väg 27, Uppsala