Critical Geopolitics of Wildlife Conservation

Authors: Shannon O'Lear*, University of Kansas
Topics: Political Geography, Environment, Legal Geography
Keywords: critical geopolitics, wildlife conservation, conservation practice, conservation materiality
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


This paper borrows the analytical approach established in 'Environmental Geopolitics' and applies it to wildlife conservation. The objective is to examine different ways that conservation subfields utilize geographical knowledge selectively. With the understanding that discourse is not only text and narrative, but also materiality, practice, and identity, it is possible to assess different ways that wildlife conservation work produces, promotes, and sometimes challenges established forms of knowledge and power. The paper considers three key observations about familiar discourses of wildlife conservation: 1) the role and meaning of the environment is not always specified; 2) humans’ role tends to be considered selectively; and 3) insufficient attention is paid to spatial dimensions of human-environment interactions. Recent work in wildlife conservation scholarship provides examples to illustrate how scholars are challenging dominant narratives about conservation and dynamics of power inherent in conservation narratives, practices, identities, and materialities.

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