Constructing the Poacher: Narratives of Blame in Ivory Poaching

Authors: Marlotte De Jong*,
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Human Rights, Animal Geographies
Keywords: Bio-power, necropolitics, spaces of exception, poaching, ivory, Africa
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 3:55 PM / 5:35 PM
Room: 8228, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Poaching has been and continues to be, a significant detriment to the conservation of biodiversity. While media descriptions of poaching often include vivid details about the animal victims and the heroics of those fighting to conserve biodiversity, ambiguity still surrounds ‘the poacher’. Clarifying the identity of a poacher is necessary to expose a societal tendency to enforce stereotypes on others that perpetuate violence and inequality. Without knowing the identity of a poacher, it becomes easy to impose unsubstantiated beliefs upon them that legitimize unjust and violent policies like shoot-to-kill and lifetime jail sentences. This research seeks to understand how the media has constructed the identity and context of the poacher to answer critical questions of how and why violent protected area policies have become perceived as necessary conservation strategies. Through a media content analysis of newspaper reports and field interviews with conservation actors, this paper explores the human rights implications around how the media and society place poachers within a ‘space of exception’ that legitimizes the state’s claims to necro- and bio-power.

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