«1. Introduction Over the last twenty years, conservation has become a central analytical focus in the social sciences. This review article brings ...»
This process occurred simultaneously with a wave of successful indigenous land claims in some places including Australia (Bergin 1993; Lewis 1989) and South Africa (Reid 2001; Steenkamp 1998). In Australia, following the Native Title Act (1993) and the subsequent wave of successful land claims, the federal government instituted the Indigenous Protected Areas program that allowed local communities with land titles to access additional public resources in return for conservation efforts on their land (Langton, Rhea and Palmer 2005). At the same time UNESCO was promoting the Biosphere Park program, which accepted varying degrees of human use in the different zones of their protected areas (Batisse 1982). Different conservationist organizations adopted some elements of this co-management framework and developed their own programs. Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) programs sustained by WWF and other Western nongovernmental agencies and governments proliferated as a way to connect local
development with conservation (Blaikie 2006; Fabricius et al. 2004). During the late 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s the WWF gave support to Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDPs) (Chapin 2004).
Neoliberal conservation It was almost predictable that at some point researchers, managers, and stakeholders alike would start thinking in terms of the economic sustainability and long-term viability of each conservation policy.
Conservation policies require resources to function and, with a few exceptions, parks, parklands and protected areas usually do not generate enough income to sustain their protection or continued habitation (McCarthy and Prudham 2004). These areas need continuous inputs from governments or external institutions to endure over time (Corson 2010). Tourism, and subsidies from governments, NGOs, or companies interested in gaining green respectability, have become a fundamental part of the managerial plans of protected areas (Igoe 2010; Sullivan 2012). These financial and legitimacy transfers have often been negotiated with complete disregard to local and indigenous peoples (Chapin 2004; West et al. 2006;
MacDonald 2010). In the current installment of conservation during global economic recession, protected nature has become a commodity to be sold by governments, multinational organizations, or companies on international markets; as political or economic leverage (Igoe and Brockington 2007; Hardin 2011). This process amounts to a deregulation of conservation, where privatization and environmental alienation take on an increasingly larger role (Fortwangler 2007; Robertson 2006).
In this framework the United Nations-Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries program (REDD) plays a significant role because of its growing dimensions, but also because of the rationality that informs it. The program is based on trading sound environmental behavior from the South in return from funding from the North (Harvey et al. 2009). Despite not dealing with stable and established conservation areas, the program has territorial and managerial global consequences of immense proportions.
Neoliberal conservation, framed by global economic crisis from 2008, is occurring hand in hand with a general neoliberalisation of the societies that traditionally funded conservation across the world.
Privatization is happening in some places (Reid 2011; Heynen et al. 2007; Igoe and Brockington 2007), while in others, plain dismantling of the conservationist public administration and its policies is occurring, resulting in an effective decapitalization of conservation. The consequences of this have not been comprehensibly studied (Cooper 2010; Pellizzoni 2011).
*** The increase in importance and popularity of the political ecology of conservation has gone hand in hand with a parallel increase of the social significance of conservation itself. This article attempts to unveil some of the theoretical genealogies that conflate in the social analysis of conservation. Analyzing conservation as an ideological and political phenomenon requires an analysis of the changes and implications that conservation has undergone in three distinct but closely related fields: territorial governance (politics), market integration (economy), and taste (cultural values). This, in other words, is an inquiry into the impacts of the "great transformation", the consolidation of modernity via the unfolding of modern states and the capitalist market on the field of environmental conservation (Polanyi 1944).
In the chronology above, conservation became a quintessential product of late modernity due to the structural framework of its implementation, both from the point of view of political power interactions and economic rationalization, or market integration, and the cultural changes required for its mainstream consolidation (Appadurai 1996; Baudrillard 1998; Harvey 2001). The creation of a protected area is as much a social process with political and economic consequences as it is an ecological project in which stakeholders' managerial, and consequently, cultural preferences and knowledge, play a fundamental role (Forsyth 2002, Cooper 2000; Saberwal and Rangajaran 2003; Vaccaro and Beltran 2009). Interestingly enough, this chronology also illuminates the presences and absences that dominate critical studies of conservation: the chronology itself, with its three phases, is defined by the managerial and ideological structure that controls the policy, and focuses mostly on the discourses that articulate it as a more or less permanent institutional performance of power. The interaction of these technologies of power with the environment itself and the ecological mobility of the landscapes that they protect is an element that, surprisingly, often remains outside the scope of analysis (Balée 2006; Vayda and Walters 1999). This trend may have had an impact on the difficult interactions between political ecologists and a conservationist world dominated by ecologists and conservation biologists.
Social sciences first approached conservation by focusing on its social consequences, especially the political dimensions and through the effects on livelihoods and subsistence of affected populations. In the fortress conservation model, the exclusion of territory from human use was meant to protect nature from
anthropogenic destruction. External institutions of urban origin decided the extent of enclosure (Cronon 1996). This type of conservation allegedly protected that particular habitat from external abuse but it also left local rural populations without access to historically held resources fundamental for their survival, or at times, it involved the forced relocation of local populations (Blaikie 1985; Nietschmann 1973). This political inequality inherent to conservation policies resulted in research on the political economy of conservation and on analysis of the differentials of power between the local and external stakeholders in such processes. On the ground, it yielded historical analysis of transformations of tenure regimes and demographic settlement patterns, and also the understanding that identity markers such as class, gender, or ethnic belonging do have an impact on those same regimes. Conservation studies combined the analysis of modern policies and their consequences for local politics and economics with three classic interests of environmental social sciences;
a) the human ecology of indigenous communities (Orlove 1980)
b) their traditional ecological knowledge (Dove 2006; Hunn 2008)
c) and the impacts on local 'isolated' communities of political or regional integration into larger units (Ensminger 1992; Peters 1994; Scott 1998).
Typical questions were: what were the productive practices of the populations affected by parks before their implementation? Could these economic practices and these ways of life be sustained by the resources left to these communities after the implementation of conservation enclosure? Who are the competing actors, what are their histories, and how do they interact in the process of inherent transformation behind the implementation of protected areas?
The analysis of the historical development of conservation also points to yet another key conservationist dilemma: one that goes beyond management and delves into a fundamental ideological opposition. Is the enjoyment of conservation spaces a basic right of all citizens and consequently, should access to protected areas be granted democratically? Or should access be limited, for reasons of environmental integrity, to a few privileged visitors? On one side we encounter elitist visions of conservation, associated with exclusion and privilege where local access to resources and visitors' flows of people are limited (Holmes 2011, 2012). In these circumstances high-end tourist packages make economic development (the commoditization of nature) and conservation compatible with a low level of impact. Luxurious ecotourism seems to actualize older models of nature enjoyment: aristocratic hunting reserves, or wildlife expeditions (Beltran 2012). In fact, the first protected areas promoted by the states, inside the national borders or in the colonial territories, were equally directed to privileged sectors of the population. On the other side we encounter a more democratic (socializing) vision of conservation ––where the idea of a protected area (national in its origin, but soon regional, for the common good) is connected with the idea of rights of access. Nature is, in this perspective, more a civil right than exclusive merchandise. Under this approach the role of public institutions in conservation initiatives as well the very notion of nature as national patrimony would be sustained by the explicit goal of making nature accessible to large segments of the population (Floyd 2001).
On occasion public use becomes a priority ahead of conservation itself: the only effective intervention by the authorities is the management of the visitors themselves (services, access infrastructure, and to limit their impact) with the approach being closer to tourism promotion than strict environmental protection. In urban parks in or near metropolitan areas, the services provided by protected spaces are considered more important than the actual integrity or authenticity of 'natural' characteristics. Near cities, green areas are scarcer than agricultural landscapes (the traditional enemy of 'pristine' environments) and these may be included in the conservationist effort (Lai 2013). Conservation areas have tended to privilege environmental integrity or biodiversity preservation as the reason for or the goal of protection. Urban protected areas are more directed at ensuring air quality or leisure areas for the inhabitants of the city (Rademacher and Sivaramakrishnan 2013).
3. Conceptual genealogies This third section focuses on the intellectual genealogies of some of the most relevant concepts needed to discuss the architecture of conservation. To achieve this goal we subdivide this section into three blocks: state, market, and culture. We understand the emergence of conservation as a social transformation, as a change that occurred amidst of a more general process of complete social metamorphosis: the emergence of modernity (Polanyi 1944). The implicit analytical structure deployed by the three fields defined in the second section, mirrors Gramsci's analysis of socioeconomic transitions (2011). In the modern mode of production close attention needs to be paid to the consolidation of the capitalist state (economy and politics), and the fundamental cultural shifts that accompany every major social transformation (culture).
The division of the intellectual genealogies of conservation in three fields is, of course, a heuristic device. The development of the state, and concepts such as governmentality and territoriality, cannot be understood without the concurrent unfolding of the capitalistic market and its mass production and consumption networks, and the cultural shifts that have facilitated their hegemonic prevalence.
The state: or, the politics of conservation It is clear, in any case, that the creation of a protected area results in a redistribution and a renegotiation of the political economy in a locale (Gibson 1999). The rationality and structures that govern access to and control of natural resources are modified by the intervention of an external political body (Anderson and Berglund 2003; Neumann 1998). Accordingly, proponents of new institutionalism with its emphasis on land tenure (Bromley 1992; Hann 2003) and collective action (Ostrom 1990; Ostrom et al.
2002) have identified the behavioral and economic impacts of extracting the land from local jurisdictions to transfer it to an impersonal and external managerial entity.
The finding is that conservation is closely tied to state integration and state-making projects (Craib 2004; Vandergeest and Peluso 1995). Through conservation, the state extends its administrative grasp over of its territory. The nation is territorialized by homogenizing the management of its natural spaces (Lefebvre 1974; Winichakul 1997). As modern nation-states try to assert control in this way, cultural landscapes and natural phenomena are integrated into emerging or changing national identities by the different nationalist romanticisms that create an ideological and literary base for the integration of the environmental and cultural past of the nation (Anderson 1983; Storey 2012). Environmentalism becomes part of the armamentarium of the nation, part of its statemaking ideology (Cederlof and Sivaramakrishnan 2006). What sustains, what provides legitimacy to the state's claim to a monopoly on the conservation of nature, is the idea of collective heritage and best available science. Collective heritage is the cultural elements or landscape features defined as intergenerational patrimony in need of 'public' protection (Roigé and Frigolé 2011). The creation of heritage, in turn, constructs the national and local communities alike through symbolic practice (Augé 1994;
Davallon 2006). Patrimonialization (the attribution of heritage status) is a process that has cultural, symbolic, institutional, economic, and administrative manifestations.