Conservation-induced violence and militarization of conservation spaces in Chitwan National Park, Nepal.

Authors: Yogesh Dongol*,
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Environmental Science, Human Rights
Keywords: protected areas, militarization, violence, conservation
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

A major line of research on nature conservation territories investigates the ways institutions and
actors employ diverse spatial strategies to control people and spaces. Relatedly, scholars have
studied the impact of such spatial strategies on the production of new subjectivities. Using the
empirical case of Chitwan National Park, this paper builds on prior studies of internal
territorialization, conservation violence, and subject formation. It is based on long-term ethno-historical research in the buffer zone communities surrounding the park. I explore multiple forms of violence against people. In particular, I ask how the use of extreme physical violence on
suspected “poachers” such as the shoot-on-sight, extreme physical punishment and enhanced
interrogation techniques, such as water-boarding, and related deaths are justified and normalized
in nature conservation in Nepal. In addition, I explore why and how the military in the park has
been represented as an indispensable force for the protection of wildlife and national parks
despite their poor performance record, lack of capabilities and accountability, and the high cost
of military security. I show how global conservation discourses related to poaching, transnational
organized crime and trade, extinction, and security represents local people, places, and practices
in ways that normalize conservation violence and make militarization appear inevitable. I argue
that the conservation-induced violence enabled the co-constitution of state spaces, environmental
institutions and non-environmental subjects such as “poachers” and “encroachers”.

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