Sarah Vaughn’s contribution to the “Just Environments” series examines the relationships between climate change adaptation, forms of expertise, and histories of modernization. Focusing on flooding in Guyana, Vaughn describes how bureaucratic forms of engineering expertise are challenged by citizens and NGOs, who demand more transparency and accountability in the execution of these projects. Climate adaptation projects are thus sites of political action, shaped by public debates about expertise.
Sarah E. Vaughn is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research has focused on climate adaptation and civil engineering in the Caribbean and Latin America. Her more recent work is the role of mapping on the formation of human trafficking in the Guiana Shield’s mining sector. Her articles are published in the journals Cultural Anthropology, Critique of Anthropology, and Radical History Review, among others. She is currently completing a book manuscript entitled Engineering Vulnerability: Expertise and Climate Change in Guyana. Vaughn is a Mellon Mays Fellow whose work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies (2012, 2015) and the Social Science Research Council-Mellon Mays Grant Initiatives (2008). She received her PhD from Columbia University and BA from Cornell University.