«1. Introduction Over the last twenty years, conservation has become a central analytical focus in the social sciences. This review article brings ...»
Godoy 2001; Peters 1994). This integration does not happen without economic, infrastructural and cultural transformations (Castells 1996; Hannerz 1996).
The (bourgeois/elite) idealization of nature as a place untouched by the human hand (Braun and Castree 1998; Cronon 1996) adds to nature a veneer of authenticity (Roigé and Frigolé 2011) that has an
interesting collateral effect. Protection often goes hand in hand with restoration efforts that attempt to simulate a pre-human nature. Protected areas, to different degrees, attempt to replicate an idealized nature (Peet and Watts 1996; Knight 2006) and managers seek to restore or recreate ideal natures (Barrett and White 2001; Castree 1995; Howell et al. 2011). Grounded in an Arcadian imaginary, restoration, reforestation, and related conservation projects are often much more about mimicking ideals (Auerbach 2004 ;
Baudrillard 1998; Vaccaro and Beltran 2009) than about managing real environmental change.
4. Conclusion In their early work, political ecologists referred to 'natural resources' rather than 'nature' (Bryant and Bailey 1997). The goal was to avoid conceptual essentialisms and to bring economy and politics into the discussion: to create a political economy of the environment (Wolf 1972). The analysis of the politicization and commoditization of nature has been a common and relevant approach for the understanding of how the extractive and transformative industries operate. For centuries the elites of different societies and regimes acknowledged and used the 'leisure potential' of nature (Darby 2000). It was only during the modernization of Western societies, with the unfolding of the nation state and the capitalist mass market (Polanyi 1944), that nature was integrated definitively into the services sector via the creation of a large conservation apparatus (Peet and Watts 1996). This process resulted in an institutionalization (politics), commoditization (economy), and homogenization (culture) of the relationship between nature and society. A political economy of nature, of conservation, was created.
To reflect on this socialization of nature as an entity worth protecting, this article summarized two important elements of the literature on the political ecology of conservation: its historical chronologies and its conceptual genealogies. The rather extensive bibliography that accompanies this piece constitutes a fourth quasi-section. It attempts to offer an extensive dataset of entries associated with the political ecology of conservation and to concepts used by the social sciences analyzing conservation. This bibliographical task is so vast that we cannot claim to have included everything. We have, however, incorporated enough to give a good idea of the field for scholars and students alike.
The second section has two goals. The first goal is to offer a summary chronology of the different types of conservation that have been developed during the modern era: fortress, participatory, and neoliberal conservation. This three stage sequence is, of course, a construct. Although the three types emerged in historical succession, none of them disappears when the others emerge. Rather they overlap or cohabit in different localities in different periods, with an emphasis on one or the other depending on the vagaries of management in that particular period. The second goal of this chronological section is to show the similarities between the type of conservation practiced and the society that implements it. The fortress conservation model emerges in a moment in which colonialism, with remote authoritarian institutional control, is dominant. The neoliberal conservationist model does not appear until the Reagan-Thatcher period achieved its current mature form and became the hegemonic international political framework.
The third section focuses on the intellectual genealogies of some of the most relevant concepts needed in discussing the architecture of conservation. To achieve this we subdivided this section into three: state, market, and culture. In the subsection devoted to the state we discussed, amongst many others, ideas such as governmentality, territoriality, bureaucracy, legitimacy, knowledge, power, environmentality, state-making, and resistance. In the subsection devoted to the capitalist market we connected the elements introduced in the previous section to others including the leisure class, the leisure economy, mass production, market integration, networks, Fordism, hyper-consumption, commoditization, and the moral economy. We finished by mapping cultural shifts: identifying hypermodernity, postmaterialistic values, desire, spectacle, patrimonialization, heritage, collective identity, taste, and globalization.
We have attempted to bring together a large group of concepts and authors coming from different fields of social sciences and humanities that are not often put together on the same page. The goal is to highlight the connections that exist between them in their relation to the general field of conservation, identifying the intellectual network created by several generations of social scientists. It must be acknowledged that this literature review of political ecology and conservation does not include a survey of the gray literature comprising on-the-ground evaluation reports from the conservation management organizations. A significant percentage of these reports are produced by social scientists too. This is a daunting task, necessary to complete the picture of the relationship between social sciences and the conservation world, but that deserves a full article for itself.
In the last couple of decades, then, critical studies of conservation have blossomed. They have succeeded in establishing a dialogue with ecology and conservation biology, so that many of the most relevant concepts used by the social sciences and humanities are now shared. However, this intellectual production is not having a similar influence on conservation policies, design, and management in the field.
Most conservation practitioners have been unable to address the political ecology critique. Although conservationist discourses have integrated 'social concerns' to some extent, the everyday reality of
conservation policies is often marked by an antagonistic interaction between those policies and local people.
Critical political ecology has much to contribute to the practice, as well as the theory, of environmental conservation. It is a difficult task, one still pending, to convince biologists and politicians that these critiques are constructive and have the potential to improve local wellbeing and environmental conservation. To realize this potential two things must happen: first, the conservationist world must be more receptive to the obvious fact that ecology and society cannot be understood or managed independently, and that governance mechanisms have political, social, and ecological consequences that might question or improve the long term viability of public policy. Secondly, political ecology scholars must make an effort to make our discourses, ideas, and contributions available to people who speak other academic and non-academic dialects and hold different moral economies. Ironically, we have not being so good at doing that.
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