State Power in Green: From Conservation Areas to the Conservation State

Authors: Francis Masse*, York University
Topics: Political Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: Poaching, conservation, security, law enforcement, state power
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Studio 10, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Scholars have long examined how protected areas and efforts to conserve biodiversity are a way for states to exert control over discrete spaces, and the people, resources, and flows through them. More recently, there are arguments that the recent intensification of commercial poaching and the illegal wildlife trade jeopardize and threaten state power, security, and sovereignty. Taking a rather different perspective, and using Mozambique as a case study, I argue that the poaching crisis in Southern Africa is ushering in an expansion and extension of state power within and importantly beyond spaces of conservation. With regards to the former, states are strengthening their ability to control and secure protected areas, especially those deemed under threat. Concerning the latter, the pressure to combat poaching and the illegal trade in wildlife and timber is acting as a catalyst for states to expand and increase their power far beyond spaces of conservation. While this amounts to a de- or extra-territorialization of conservation law enforcement beyond protected areas, I argue it also reflects an extension and expansion of state power over national territory writ large and in the name of conservation law enforcement. I examine three mechanisms through which this is happening. 1) The consolidation and de-territorialization of conservation legislation and the strengthening of related legal and judicial institutions; 2) The extension of conservation law enforcement and related security practice beyond conservation spaces and actors; and 3) The creation of new (inter-)state security forces and partnerships in the name of anti-poaching.

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