Magnús Örn Sigurðsson

Areas of Interest: 
Climate change mitigation, renewable energy, experts, policy, anthropology of ethics, ideology, Iceland, Scandinavia and supranational governance

My main interest is the delayed and insufficient human response to climate change and understanding the agency of climate change representations in that context. I have looked at representations of climate change in fictional texts, analyzing Jonathan Franzen’s novel Freedom in my B.A. thesis in Comparative Literature at the University of Iceland. In my M.A. thesis in Environmental Science, at the same school, I pinpointed a specific optimistic narrative in the response to climate change in contemporary discourse, within the political, corporate and non-profit sphere. A link to the thesis can be found here. I am furthermore very interested in how the discourse on climate change is specifically (and typically) rendered within the contemporary neoliberal paradigm and in what way it effects our thinking about (and acting on) this global crisis. As a student in the anthropology department at Rice University, I am supported by the Fulbright Association of Iceland. 

In my home country, Iceland, I have been a part of an environmental activist group, particularly focusing on climate change, which was formed mainly in response to the Icelandic Government’s increased interest in arctic oil exploration in the ocean north-east of the country ( However, Iceland’s geothermal- and hydro-energy resources are the center point of the environmental debate in the country. Furthermore, energy issues also have obvious connections to climate change mitigation. In my graduate research, I intend to further explore this constellation of interests, which also extend to the larger area of Scandinavia.

Expanding on my academic interests in the way that knowledge of climate change circulates between academic disciplines, I have had the privilege of working on a research project in Iceland dedicated to bettering the mediation of scientific knowledge on climate change to the public. This has been accomplished through the organization of public lectures and providing documentary filmmakers with exclusive interviews with climate scientists (

Magnús Örn Sigurðsson
Graduate Student