CfP POLLEN 2020: Fallen from Grace? Debating the legacy and state of Southern African conservation

24-26 June, 2020, Brighton, UK

Convenors: Stasja Koot and Bram Büscher

Southern Africa has long been at the forefront of nature conservation globally. Under colonialism, the region played an important part in the expansion of national parks (Ramutsindela 2004, Cock and Fig 2000), while independence and post-apartheid led to globally recognized forms of community-based conservation. The latter combined the conservation of biodiversity with development through CBNRM (Community-based Natural Resource Management) and other programs (most famously, through the CAMPFIRE project in Zimbabwe or the conservancies in Namibia). CBNRM was predominantly based on the creation of economic benefits through tourism, trophy hunting and other market-based forms of development, which were soon criticized for not achieving high expectations around development and conservation (Sullivan 2002, Blaikie, 2006; Dressler et al. 2010, Koot 2019).

The waning of CBNRM around the early 2000s saw the simultaneous rise of Transfrontier Conservation (or ‘Peace parks’) as a new, globally popular conservation paradigm. Again, this created high expectations about local development and inclusion, but again with often disappointing results (Duffy 2001, Büscher 2013). As a result, some scholars urged for a more hardline approach to protecting biodiversity, especially in response to the escalating rhino poaching crisis that started in 2008. On the ground, this approach has translated into a militarization of conservation, and different forms of ‘green violence’ (Lunstrum 2014, Büscher and Ramutsindela 2016, Duffy et al. 2019). At the same time and especially since the early 2010’s, we see a renewed push for the full-scale commodification of conservation as part of a broader strategy to build a regional ‘wildlife economy’. Building on the intensification of the privatization of conservation in relation to (high end) tourism, a rapidly growing trade in game species and the creation of so-called ‘wildlife estates’, amongst others, it seems that conservation in Southern Africa is currently less concerned with building inspiring and (seemingly) inclusive conservation narratives than to rather find more ‘pragmatic’ ways to merge protection and profit in a neoliberal conservation context (Silva and Motzer 2015, Massé and Lunstrum 2016, Duffy et al. 2019, Koot, Hitchcock and Gressier 2019).

For this session we invite papers that aim to understand the legacy and current state of conservation in Southern Africa and how it might or should develop in the near future. Does Southern Africa still play the role of shining conservation example for the world it once was? Or is the region currently in ‘crisis’, resulting in a more inward-looking conservation gaze? After so many innovations, what are its current possibilities? How do contemporary nature conservation initiatives relate to broader political, social and economic trends and dynamics, including continued inequality, violence, resource extraction and other pressing environmental issues (e.g. climate change)? And what does all this mean for local people living adjacent to (and sometimes working in) conservation areas? Or, more broadly, how does all this relate to and affect issues of race, gender, inequality and power in the region? These are concerns and questions which we would like to discuss in this session for the POLLEN2020 conference, and we invite papers that address and connect several of these.

If you want to join, please send your abstract (max. 250 words) to Stasja Koot and Bram Büscher before 15 October, through kootwork@gmail.com and bram.buscher@wur.nl.

 

References

Blaikie, P. (2006) Is Small Really Beautiful? Community-based Natural Resource Management in Malawi and Botswana. World Development, 34, 1942-1957.

Büscher, B. 2013. Transforming the frontier: peace parks and the politics of neoliberal conservation in southern Africa. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Büscher, B. & M. Ramutsindela (2016) Green violence: Rhino poaching and the war to save Southern Africa’s peace parks. African Affairs, 115, 1-22.

Cock, J. & D. Fig (2000) From colonial to community based conservation: environmental justice and the national parks of South Africa. Society in Transition, 31, 22-35.

Dressler, W., B. BüScher, M. Schoon, D. A. N. Brockington, T. Hayes, C. A. Kull, J. McCarthy & K. Shrestha (2010) From hope to crisis and back again? A critical history of the global CBNRM narrative. Environmental Conservation, 37, 5-15.

Duffy, R. (2001) Peace parks: The paradox of globalisation. Geopolitics, 6, 1-26.

Duffy, R., F. Massé, E. Smidt, E. Marijnen, B. Büscher, J. Verweijen, M. Ramutsindela, T. Simlai, L. Joanny & E. Lunstrum (2019) Why we must question the militarisation of conservation. Biological Conservation, 232, 66-73.

Koot, S. (2019) The Limits of Economic Benefits: Adding Social Affordances to the Analysis of Trophy Hunting of the Khwe and Ju/’hoansi in Namibian Community-Based Natural Resource Management. Society & Natural Resources, 32, 417-433.

Koot, S., R. Hitchcock & C. Gressier (2019) Belonging, Indigeneity, Land and Nature in Southern Africa under Neoliberal Capitalism: An Overview. Journal of Southern African Studies, 45, 341-355.

Lunstrum, E. (2014) Green Militarization: Anti-Poaching Efforts and the Spatial Contours of Kruger National Park. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 104, 816-832.

Massé, F. & Lunstrum, E. (2016) Accumulation by securitization: Commercial poaching, neoliberal conservation, and the creation of new wildlife frontiers. Geoforum, 69, 227-237.

Ramutsindela, M. 2004. Parks and people in postcolonial societies: experiences in southern Africa. New York: Kluwer Academic Publisher.

Silva, J. A. & N. Motzer (2015) Hybrid Uptakes of Neoliberal Conservation in Namibian Tourism-based Development. Development and Change, 46, 48-71.

Sullivan, S. 2002. How sustainable is the communalizing discourse of ‘new’ conservation? The masking of difference, inequality and aspiration in the fledgling ‘conservancies’ of Namibia. In Conservation and mobile indigenous peoples: Displacement, forced settlement, and sustainable development, eds. D. Chatty & M. Colchester, 158-187. Oxford: Berghahn Press.

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