The Cultural Politics of Nature Conservation: Producing and Reproducing Social Identities in Nepal’s Protected Areas

Authors: Yogesh Dongol*,
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Human-Environment Geography, Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: Political Ecology, Cultural Politics, Nature Conservation, Identity, Social inequalities, Nepal
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 4:35 PM
Room: Director's Row E, Sheraton, Plaza Building, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The relationship of nature conservation and modern social identities such as race, gender, caste, class, and national identity has become one of the major strands of investigation in the political ecology of conservation. Political ecological scholars have shown the entanglement of socio-spatial practices and the discursive representation of nature, people and practices in the co-construction of nature and difference. Drawing on the cultural politics of nature conservation, I ask how social differences and inequalities are maintained, contested and reconfigured in the work of conservation and development. This paper examines the struggle between different groups over meanings of conservation and development and everyday material practices and performances through a long-term ethnographic study in two buffer zone villages of Nepal's Chitwan National Park. My analysis shows how power operates through the production and reproduction of class, caste and indigenous identities. More importantly, the paper helps to understand the resurgence of ethnonationalism and social inequalities in contemporary Nepali society.

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