A call to redefine ‘the field’ in nature conservation studies in India

Ramesh, Madhuri (2020) A call to redefine ‘the field’ in nature conservation studies in India. Ecology, Economy and Society–the INSEE Journal, 3 (2). pp. 27-31. ISSN 2581-6101

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Nature conservation has undergone significant shifts since the early 2000s. To begin with, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the arm of the United Nations that steers the global conservation agenda, has become an increasingly neoliberal institution—it has marginalized concerns regarding the impacts of capitalism and, instead, has promoted market-based tools for conservation and sought partnerships with a range of industries including mining corporations (MacDonald 2010). A second change is that in some parts of the world, there is militarized management of protected areas (PAs). The default assumption of the states/organizations involved is that poachers are linked to terrorist or drug-trafficking networks and thereby pose a major security threat (Duffy 2014). Similarly, some states favour the establishment of vast PAs as an assertion of geopolitical power. This is commonly seen in the case of marine protected areas (MPAs), which have a history of territorial dispute. Such MPAs may continue to be accessed or managed by military establishments (De Santo 2020). Finally, and in contrast to these top–down trends, there has been a surge in calls over the past few years to decolonize conservation by directly challenging the Global North‘s fundamentally unjust and racist approach (Mbaria and Ogada 2016; Aini and West 2018). These threads extend to India, too, as recent studies indicate that nature conservation here is closely linked to issues of neoliberalism (Ramesh and Rai 2017), national security (Muralidharan and Rai 2020), and social discrimination (Kabra 2019). Now more than ever, nature conservation is not just about saving biodiversity—it is a domain marked by economic, political, and social contestation.

Item Type: Article
Authors: Ramesh, Madhuri
Uncontrolled Keywords: Nature Conservation Studies
Subjects: Natural Sciences > Life sciences; biology > Ecology
Divisions: Azim Premji University > School of Development
Full Text Status: Public
URI: http://publications.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/id/eprint/2360
Publisher URL: https://doi.org/10.37773/ees.v3i2.123

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