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Wild Attachments: how new human-wildlife relations emerge from rapid ecological change

Authors: Sarah L. Crowley*, University of Exeter
Topics: Animal Geographies, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: wildlife management, conservation, environmental conflict, human-animal relations, nonhuman charisma
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The decline, introduction, and re-introduction of wildlife populations generate both public interest and political controversy. They also create the conditions for novel forms of human-wildlife relationships to emerge. I demonstrate how the possibility of losing resident wildlife populations can inspire defensive protectionism towards them, exposing important, affective attachments between human and non-human communities. When threatened with removal or extinction, charismatic wildlife populations have repeatedly become (re)constituted as important components of individual, community and cultural identities. Weaving together empirical findings from three separate case studies of wildlife management controversies in England, I examine how human actors thread declining, exotic and reintroduced wildlife populations into new narratives about the history and future of their communities and local ecologies. I draw on ideas about nonhuman charisma, affective relations, and embodied encounters to discuss where and why these ‘wild attachments’ form, how they translate into political power and resistance, and how they might enable more inclusive, 'cosmopolitical' models of wildlife governance.

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