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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2007  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 432-449

Neoliberal Conservation: A Brief Introduction


1 Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado at Denver, Campus Box 103, P.O. Box 173364, Denver CO 80217-3364, USA.
2 Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, Harold Hankins Building, Precinct Centre, Booth Street West Manchester M139QH, UK.

Correspondence Address:
Jim Igoe
Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado at Denver, Campus Box 103, P.O. Box 173364, Denver, CO 80217-3364, USA.

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


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The growing body of work on the 'neoliberalisation of nature' does not as yet pay adequate attention to conservation policy and its impacts. Simi­larly, studies of conservation have much to learn by placing conservation policies in the context of broader social and economic changes that define neoliberalism. In this introduction, we outline and analyse the ways in which viewing conservation through a neoliberal lens adds value (if you will excuse the metaphor) to the collection of critiques we offer, placing quite different geographical areas and case studies in a comparative context. We argue that neoliberalisation involves the reregulation of nature through forms of com­modification. This, in turn, entails new types of territorialisation: the parti­tioning of resources and landscapes in ways that control, and often exclude, local people. Territorialisation is a starkly visible form of reregulation, which frequently creates new types of values and makes those values available to national and transnational elites. Finally, neoliberalisation has also coin­cided with the emergence of new networks that cut across traditional divides of state, non-governmental organisation (NGO), and for-profit enterprise. These networks are rhetorically united by neoliberal ideologies and are com­bining in ways that profoundly alter the lives of rural people in areas targeted for biodiversity conservation. The studies this collection brings together, which are all rooted in place-based detailed research, are united by their ex­perience of these processes. We argue that the disparate collection of cri­tiques on the neoliberalisation of nature needs more grounded studies like these. We conclude this introduction with some tentative recommendations for future research and policy on neoliberal conservation.


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