Conservation and Capitalism Notes

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                         9-10 September 2008

I Panel: Conservation Nature and Commodities I: Image and Spectacle

Let’s all go on a Spectacular Eco-Tour Around the Historical Bloc, Where We Will
Discover a Theoretical Framework for Engaging the Recent Explosion of Protected
Areas and Associated Transformations
Jim Igoe, Katja Naves Graca, Dan Brockington

A Wookie wouldn’t drive a Hummer but would Ewok drink certified coffee?: Media,
Consumption, and the fashioning of contemporary environmental politics
Paige West,

Protecting the Environment the Natural Way: Ethical Consumption and Commodity
James Carrier

        The discussion after the first Panel on Conservation Nature and Commodities:
Image and Spectacle was circulating around the themes of ethical consumption and
the way in which commodification, fetishisation, and the global capitalist neo-liberal
market convinces us – ethical consumers (or would-be consumers) of the value
presented by the ethical products in preserving the environment. One of the important
aspects was the differences in the exporting of goods and ideas in the earlier ages.
James Carrier (James) asked Page West (Paige) on how the process of exporting Gin
in XVII century Geneva to England differed from the XXIst century export of Gimi
(the ethnolinguistic group in the Lufa District of the Eastern Highlands of Papua New
Guinea) coffee from Papua New Guinea to the Western countries. PW answered that
the difference was huge because of the preoccupation with the ethical consumption,
which was not even of slight consideration in the XVII century Europe. The interest
in ethical consumption is well captured in a book by Lizabeth Cohen called “A
Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Post-war America” .
        The participants in various questions and comments stressed the importance of
understanding the mechanisms behind the processes of commodification and
fetishisation present in the ethical consumption discourse. Jim Igoe (Jim) described
feishisation in terms of competition of various images, where the consumer through
buying the object of ethical consumption is convinced to be supporting activities of
social justice. Unfortunately, there is no way in which we can assess the ethicality of
production, because the processes are very complex. Often processes involved in the
production of ethical commodities are not ethical and have opposite effects, but they
serve the interest of institutions to sell the product and therefore customers do not care
about other aspects. Market can fix the relationships between consumer and
conservationism through the intermediary of organizations such as WWF. To
exemplify the “behinds of ethical consumption” Paige talked about the images we are
fed as tourists to purchase the eco-tourism vacations packages of ‘big fish and intact
coral reefs’ – such as mentioned by James in Jamaican national parks, without seeing
the disturbances to the environment done by eco-tourism.
        Additionally, Paige talked about the processes involved in the Fairtrade
certification as being not adequate with the idea of fairness. For example in Papua
New Guinea for the coffee farmer to be certified by Fairtraide children can not be
present in the coffee field, which often excludes women from the labour market. Also,
with the certification some aspects are highlighted and some demonised. Some stay
hidden and never see the light. The Fairtrade coffee label does not include in it’s
evaluation the processes ‘in between’. Only the coffee plantation is certified, however
the certification does not take into account what happens with coffee after it is
harvested, we do not see the man in the port who is fumigating coffee with some
chemicals long time band in EU and US.
        Kenneth MacDonald (Ken) added that by certifying coffee production we
apply our (western) ideas of labour fairness which differ from the social structure in
the places of production. The market captures any deliberations by introducing the
labels such as Fairtrade. The judgment is taken from the consumers, we are told ‘this
is good’, ‘you are suppose to buy it’. The product is presented as embodying
goodness. JC added that ethical consumption is the desire to develop relationship
between consumer and producers. Ethical consumption removes the ‘middle men’
from the process of coffee production, the connection is made only between the
consumers and the farmer, as if nothing lied in between . It convinces us of lifting the
veil, but with the spatial limit we find out only about the corner of the veil.
        Following the discussion Dan Rigby (Dan R) asked whether there was any
difference between competitive ecology and business.
        Additional comment was made by Katja Naves Graca (Katja) who expressed a
doubt in common belief that liberal markets are knowledge agents and that we can
find out all the necessary info. According to Katja it is only an illusion that with the
access to the internet we can find all the necessary information. Even hard core
economists like Soros are critical of liberal markets, they are critical of themselves
and admit that the markets lack reflexivity.
        The final question was asked by Nancy Lee Peluso (Nancy) who expressed the
importance of bringing the discussion of fetishisation and spectacle to the broader
public. How to present it and stir the debate on different levels? Paige commented on
the difficulty of sharing opinions, which are against adopted policies and programmes
of large and powerful NGO’s. Paige gave an example of Wild Conservation Society,
which preferred to lose institutional knowledge and fire people with long experience
in the field because they started to disagree with their approach to conservation.
James responded to Nancy’s question about the discussion on spectacle and
fetishisation giving example from Jamaican National Park in Negrli. According to
James even if there was interest among the managers of eco-lodges in Negril and if
people would realize the damage to the environment done through practices in eco-
lodges and marine parks they could not do much because they live a hand to mouth
existence and need to worry what will happen on Monday and how to pay their crew.
Every 2 or 3 years the eco-lodges go broke. With the politics of environment it is
often easy to blame the poor fishermen who kills fish that eats the algae which destroy
the coral, without looking at the problem from the side that the algae comes to live in
such abundance because of the nitrate sinking into water from the powerful
companies– but that is political. It is easier to blame the fisherman.
Panel II
Conservation Nature and Commodities II: Selling Nature

Cashing in on Cetourism: A critical ecological engagement with dominant E-NGO
discourses on Whaling, Cetacean Conservation, and Whale Watching
Katja Naves Graca

Neoliberalising Nature? Elephants as Imperfect Commodities
Rosaleen Duffy and Lorraine Moore

Can the Elephant pay it’s way? Conceptual and methodological complexities
associated with market- based approaches to conservation
Lorraine Moore

        The discussion after the 2nd Panel was around the ideas of nature conservation
through eco-tourism, the commodification of animals and the business-like approach
to conservation.
        Dan R. asked Katja for the reason behind why the whale watching is regarded
as conservation. Katja responded that it is presented as conservation on the WWF
website and is not really explained, the answer if asked would be that it educates
people, which according to Katja is challenged easily. People during the whale
watching trips have motion sickness and can hardly stand on the board, let alone be
educated. They are more then happy to get off the boat and afterwards prefer to
watch the tape of their expedition. The WWF also say that money will go to the
conservation, however there are no mechanisms in place to do so. Also there is an
assumption that if you go whale watching the whale hunting will stop, however it has
stopped long time ago in the 80’s and 90’s.
        Another set of questions was to Lorraine Moore (Lorraine), who talked about
the value of elephant in Namibia. James asked about the validity of total economic
value if all the indicators can be discounted. Additionally James questioned the
meaning of $37,000 calculated value for elephant in Namibia. Lorraine responded
that there was a difficulty in measuring values, however it may be useful as a measure
to save the elephants. Furthermore she gave an example of ‘adopting’ an elephant by
a western sponsor and the value being the existence and not a tangible profit.
        The discussion shifted to the presentation of Rosaleen Duffy (Rosaleen) and
Lorraine about the elephant eco-tourism in Botswana and Thailand. Marija asked why
did the authors choose those two countries and not for example South Africa were
elephant riding is banned. Rosaleen responded that Botswana and Thailand
represented a very interesting study because of the differences among the two
countries. In Botswana the elephants have not had a long history and relationship with
the people as it is in Thailand, were the animal has a very strong cultural presence
and relationships with humans.
        Shirley Brooks (Shirley) made a remark about commodification of animals
and gave an example of hunting on private properties in South Africa, which was
introduces about three years ago. A very disturbing case involve the hunt for white
rhino, apparently the rhino would be hunted and shot with tranquilizers, so that the
hunt can repeat and bring the profit for conservation efforts. Dan Brockington (Dan
B) gave another example of pain-ball fights with elephants in Zimbabwe and Katja
compared it to the bull fighting in Spain and Portugal – in the case where they do not
die. Rosaleen added that international architecture is very important in telling us what
we can and can not do with the animals, we can not forget that there are also
campaigns to ban harmful practices including completely banning the use of elephant.
Sian Sullivan (Sian) continued the discussion with introducing the theme of values.
How does the commodification and objectification affect the animals. Not seeing
them as subject allow us to treat them in a certain way. Lorraine added that if animals
were seen as subjects then they would have rights, and the value calculations would
not be possible or at least highly controversial. Katja mentioned that commodification
could also apply to whale watching, interestingly enough this time it would be the
commodification of experience of proximity, the consumption of something without
truly ‘watching’ the whale. Interesting is the role of state in this enterprise and the
inclusion of only very small audience, who can actually afford the whale watching
(trip costs about $10,000). Dan B. pointed out that some rather controversial
undertakings have the conservation label as well as whale watching. A good example
would be the Eco club which recycling in the toilets, windmills on the rode to the club
and a dance floor that which generates energy when people dance. Again,
assumptions that certain actions are ethically good and save the planet. Katja
commented on peoples willingness to be ethical consumers and the lack of
willingness to listen to why things are not ethical. People do not like the long
explanations, they are skeptical and want simple and short answers.
        The discussion again shifted toward the profitability and commodification of
nature. Hassan suggested that it seems like some conservation efforts are quiet a good
business. For example the Abu camp in Bostwana, where the owner charges $2000 a
night for his lodge. Rosaleen agreed with that statement and added that the
commodification of animals helped creating a profitable business of environment. She
gave examples of elephants being in the earlier ages seen as dangerous and through
the marketing campaigns and eco-tourism packages they become a sought for
experience. The meeting with gorillas, which are ‘just like us’, is also advertised by
tourist companies as a great, unmemorable experience of encounter with the animal,
which will change the tourist’s life for ever .
        Steven R. Brechin (Steven) changed the subject and asked about the role of
media in spreading the conservationist message. What about the discovery channel
and for ex. Shark week? How does that influence the public? Katja responded with
another example of polar bear being born in the NY Bronx Zoo and being presented
as the ultimate ambassador for the Climate change. What goes with it is also the
promotion of plush staffed animals, which ‘you’ have to buy to save the planet and of
course to feed the bear in the Zoo as well. Catherine Corson (Catherine) added that it
is amazing to look at how people are being disciplined and convinced about certain
issues and their moral values, such as whale watching or buying staffed animals to
preserve the environment.
Panel III
Pursuing Capitalist Logics

Big enemies and small friends: challenges facing Latin America’s indigenous peoples
Mac Chapin

Executing the capitalist logic: perspectives from protected areas
Maano Ramutsindela

The Gang Bang Theory of Nature: Environmental Policy-making in Australia under
the Howard Government (1996-2007)
Timothy Doyle

         The discussion after Panel III was around the issues of the social movements
and the way in which environmental context has changed around the world compared
to the earlier decades as well as the situation of the indigenous groups and their
position in conservation efforts.
         First question was directed to Timothy Doyle (Timothy) after his presentation
on the Howard Government in Australia between years 1997-2007. James asked why
the people voted for the conservative government in the first place. Timothy said that
it is quiet difficult to say why people do things that do not seem to be within their
interest. It is the power of political parties, mass media , anti-intellectual society and
the lost notion of community. Why did people vote for George Bush in the US?
         Katja commented on the Mac Chapin’s (Mac) presentation about the Latin
American movements and asked whether it would be possible for the small friends –
small indigenous NGO’s to work together against the big enemies – in this case, big
NGO’s and businesses. She gave an example of the indigenous movement started in
Brazil by Chico Mendez. Mac responded that it is very difficult to collaborate among
the small groups especially because of the different fundraising sources and donor
requirements. There was an attempt made by indigenous groups to work together in
Bolivia. The representatives asked the donors whether their requirements could be
similar. However, donors felt it was impossible. Furthermore, the stakes are much
higher and the power of money is overwhelming. The capital is going in the
extraction of oil, gas, mining or the networks of highways. Additionally, aid agencies
can not support the Indians in the politics even though it is very important.
         Jim continued discussion with the comment about social movements in the
60’s and 70’s and the power of people getting together. Even though there is no social
movements such as in the 60’s and 70’s people are still longing for connections and
are willing to engage in the social causes – such as buying the ethical commodities.
The situation in the US is quiet upsetting because of the disintegration of the social
movements and the militarization of government and introduction of various
oppressive rules after the 9/11th. People and NGO’s are afraid of action, citizenship
and social contract replaced with ownership society, consumption and spectatorship
became prevalent. As an individual in the society we have to own, consume, have
access to spectacle otherwise we are disposable. Recently there has been
reinvigoration of social movement in the Democratic convention. Barrack Obama
seized the context of spectacle; the question is whether he can continue after the
        Shirley brought participant’s attention to the social justice discourse. How
does in operate in various contexts. Maano Ramutsindela (Manoo) responded giving
the example of South Africa where the social justice discourse was used in the
creation of protected areas. It was black empowerment discourse, in which people
should benefit from the protected areas. Also people with land claims could negotiate
benefits. The parks creation through was initiated through nationalistic discourse and
additionally national parks made sure that the parties in power saw their work as very
important in bringing the social justice. The difficult question is who and to what
extent benefits from the parks and who is involved in the decision making. This is
very controversial and hard to resolve.
        Mac continued the discussion on social justice discourse and said that nobody
likes having invaders, conservationist make the claim that Indians need their help
because otherwise they would cut the trees. However in the end it’s big companies
who have something to say and not the little guys, the financial power of capitalism is
overwhelming. Jim added that in the US there is a discourse against the NGO’s being
involved with the indigenous groups, because after 9/11th some groups are being seen
as terrorist.
        Paige commented on how after the 60’s and 70’s the conservationist
movements became legitimate on the international arena and how at the moment by
working with the corporate businesses and often representing their interest they are
delegitimizing their work.
        Nancy returned to the subject of how have thing changed since the 60’s and
70’s when the use of spectacle was shocking however not if done by politicians. The
question is how to mobilize the spectacle for the indigenous people to grab the
average person’s attention. Sian Sullivan (Sian) went back to the topic of the global
capitalist hegemony and civil society. What can we do to present the counter-
hegemonic discourse? Sian gave an example from 2005 Porto Allegre Social Forum.
The forum itself was mainly sponsored by corporate businesses. Youth groups, who
were against the forum camped outside while the indigenous people were given space
in the “small corner” of the forum. One of the indigenous representatives during the
forum said that indigenous people wanted ‘a new pie’ referring to the power sharing
arrangements, with indigenous models of power sharing and social justice. Sian
continued with the question on how to get out of the hegemonic discourse.
Capitalism and neo-liberalism relies on assumptions on what it means to be a human.
The structures define the kinds of relationships in the world including the ones with
the non-human world. How do we break this discourse? Catherine responded that
conservation NGO’s still have the power and potential to change for better, however
if they stand on the side of corporate businesses then the battle is lost.
        To end the discussion Mac gave an anecdote about he preparation for a
conference on Indigenous people that was to take place in the USA. He was contacted
to provide expertise and suggest whom to invite for the conference. Surprisingly, his
suggestions to invite indigenous experts on indigenous issues were judged as not so
important. It was believed that indigenous people’s presence was not necessary during
this conference. In the end few indigenous representative were invited. Still, the
majority was white male academics. Is that normal? Could we imagine a conference
on women’s issues without the presence of women?
Panel IV
Fame, Wealth and Power

Conservation Elites and the Dominican Republic
George Holmes

Conservation philanthropists, royalty and business elites in nature conservation in
southern Africa
Harry Wels and Marija Spierenburg

Conservation, Celebrity and Capitalism
Dan Brockington

        The discussion after Panel 4 was around the issues of celebrity influence on
the environmental cause and the ‘intentionality’ of conservation efforts. After Marja
Spierenburg (Marija) and Harry Wels (Harry) discussed the Peace Park Foundation
(PPF) and the impacts of Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and Anton Rupert
(South African entrepreneur) Hassan Sachedina (Hassan) asked about the PPF
budget and it’s expansion after the death of Prince Bernhard and A. Rupert. Marija
said that Dutch lottery funded it with about €1 million. After the death of the two
founders the very direct contacts with big companies and CEO’s were lost and the
PPF does not operate on the same scale.
        Another question from Peter concerned the effects of rumours on the research
findings. How did it influence Marija’s and Harry’s research? Were the conspiracy
theories and rumours important in shaping the nature protection in the Netherlands?
Harry said that it is very important to be careful with rumours and check many times
whether there is any grain of truth in them, however most likely it is better to discard
them. Marija added that there was anti-conservation lobby in the Netherlands
spreading rumours, however they were not very influential. Some rumours turned to
be truth such as the poaching network behind the PPF, still it did not affect the
greatness of Prince Bernhard and A. Rupert, even though many allegations of
corruption and illegal trade were brought to light.
        Further the discussion went into the role of celebrities and the way in which
they present conservation cause – often using metaphors, and their effectiveness.
Katja asked whether social scientist could be also effective in publicising the
environmental cause. Additionally, Paige added that considering the disposability of
everything in this world and the passing trends for celebrities and causes, could that
also happened to conservation and conservationist elites? George replied that
conservation elites are involved in various causes and successfully convince people of
what the ‘right’ causes are.
        Another subject was introduced by Nancy and concerned the use of violence
in the implementation of environmental projects. Was it business philosophy through
philanthropy? George commented on the situation in the Dominican Republic where a
lot of violence was used while establishing the national parks. Conservation is often
misinterpreted with the ethical intentions, however another example contradicting this
would be of Gabon dictator who has also established national parks and used violence
to do so. Harry added that Peace Park Foundation in South Africa placed the national
parks on the territory of great turmoil. Jim also mentioned the similar situation in
Tanzania and the connection with white rich South Africans influencing the
government environmental decisions.
        The discussion shifted again towards the issue of connections between various
NGO’s, businesses, governments and the stories behind their cooperation. Harry
mentioned that there are always networks and facts, however it is hard to establish
causality between them. Marija added that ‘intentionality’ is very important, what is
hidden behind the acts. We can not forget that some celebrities, NGO’s or businesses
may have good intentions. Vupenyu Dzingirai (Vupenyu) mentioned that we should
not always focus on the negative impact of conservation because there is also benefit
from certain projects and it has a capacity to make people’s lives better. The final
comment was made by Steven who stressed the importance of relationship and the
obvious fact that they do and will exist. The important question is how those
relationships interplay and what are they.

PANEL I on the 10th of September
Conservation NGOs I: Neoliberal Moments

The Devil in the Biodiversity: Neoliberalism and the Restructuring of Biodiversity
Kenneth Iain MacDonald

Private Sector Financing Biodiversity Conservation: The Dilemmas of Three Large
Conservation NGOs
Steven R. Brechin, Robert Alexander, Jennifer Swanson, Ana Jamborcic, Brian

Tracing the origin of Neoliberal Conservation through the U.S Agency for
International Development
Catherine Corson

        The presenters from Panel I reminded everybody of the powerful influence of
big NGO’s (BINGOS) governments and businesses on the conservation projects
around the world. Jim’s first comment concerned the apparent trend of ‘everything’
getting bigger including NGOs and protected areas. There is a certain seemlessness
between society, NGOs and businesses. The NGOs become institutionalized and they
produce spectacle with examples such as Hollywood type movies. A good example of
Hollywood style movies would be Hot spots or CI summer blockbuster movie to save
Pandas (using the images from Kung Fu Panda).
         Rosaleen followed this thought with questions about hegemony and
resistance. Patterns of conservation are quiet old and their use for business
opportunities has also been applied whenever profitable. Question is whether
corporate sector dictates organizations what is and what is not acceptable.
Additionally Rosaleen asked what were the differences between head quarters and
field offices of conservationist organizations. In Madagascar corporations and NGOs
have a defining relationship with government and they are shaping practices and
policies of the government on many different levels. Catherine added that indeed in
Madagascar CI and WWF have as much power as the state.
        Ken continued with the idea of conservation as organizational practice in
which ‘bigger’ means that you are more important. However, we can not forget that
organizations are not monolithic. Some organizations such as CI are more business
like and engage with businesses more than other organizations. We also can not forget
that there is resistance within organizations. Big NGOs are now more bio-diversity
oriented than towards environment. With this new institutional context and its
enclosure of structures, it is important to restructure organizational practice especially
because institutional context creates legitimation. The national, private and NGO
interests are tied together.
        Katja added that because of the private funding for the NGOs and businesses
being involved the quality of research done by scientist suffers. As intellectuals how
do we look at the funding and it’s constraints? What can we do not to reproduce the
same models of business-like approach?
        Another question was asked by Peter W. and concerned the corporate nature of
some big NGOs, the question is why are they still NGOs if the operate like
businesses? Is it because of the tax? Steve simply replied that the organizations with
huge budgets are indeed like corporations, even thought they came from
environmental movement they transferred into corporate models. George also added
that board members of BINGOs such as CI, NC or WWF are in majority constituted
of business CEO’s. We can clearly see the connections between NGOs and corporate
business. They control everything from the top.
        Nancy was interested in knowing how does the organizational practice affect
the local level. Additionally what is behind the elite structures and networks shaping
the conservation world, what is their intentionality? Steve replied that BINGOs have
an important effect on the nation states, however not always. A good example would
be Belize where the state still retains powerful and does not let the BINGOs decide on
important matters. There is no steam-roller effect in this case. However, as Ken
added, in some countries the impact is substantial on the national level as it happened
in Northern Pakistan, where through GEF funding project the villagers where told not
to hunt any more. Their lives changed dramatically from one day to another.
        Katherine responded to the question regarding the USAID directives for the
bio-diversity guidelines (projects in order to be financed must undertake activities
which fall under the label of bio-diversity). Bio-diversity is characterized as species
preservation, national parks, habitat conservations and in general ‘things’ that can be
measured. Often the environmentalists define their projects under different labels just
so that they can get the funding. Sometimes instead of promoting species
conservations they would call it sustainable development – depending on the funders
needs. In Madagascar there is also outreach to non-conservation issues. The
government of Madagascar is trying desperately to find a different source of funding
and to become more independent from the USAID, CI and WWF funding.
        A general comment was made by Mac, who stressed the importance of
clarification about the terms we use such as bio-diversity, sustainable development or
ecology. Often we use them all at the same time, without realizing that they represent
very different concepts. It is also important to notice the difference between the EU
and USA conservation language. In the US the talk is more about bio-diversity
whereas in EU it’s more about sustainable development.
        Vupenyu commented on the practices of WWF in Zimbabwe and gave
example of situation where even very big organization can changed certain practices
on the ground if they help the local people. In Zimbabwe WWF was not allowed to
take passengers in their cars when traveling. However, taking into consideration the
very difficult situation of Zimbabwean people and lack of transportation they were
convinced to start taking people and since then they do.
        Steve ended the discussion with an anecdote from one of his interviews with
The Nature Conservancy representative. The interviewed person was asked about the
large corporate support for the organization and they way it may be interpreted. She
responded to this saying: yes, indeed there is a lot of bad money, but we make it good

Conservation NGOs II: Transformations and their consequences

The work of Non-Governmental Organisations in African Wildlife Conservation
Katherine Scholfield and Dan Brockington

Conservation Empire: A Case Study of the Scalling Up of African Wildlife
Foundation (AWF)
Hassan Sachedina

Conservation Business and Livelihoods In East African Rangelands
Katherine Homewood and Pippa Chenevix Trench

         After the presentations Sian made a comment that it would be great if
somebody actually did look at social scientists’ research, however the resistance to
engage in data from research is huge and many attempts to discredit it are made.
         Another comment was added by Katja, who wondered about the value of
money and what it represents and how does money translate into environment. Only if
something can be counted than money does translate into environment with for
example trees being planted. However often there is no quantifiable way to measure
the impact, what about patterns of communication among species, how do we
translate it into value?
         Rosaleen asked the panel whether there were patterns of convergence between
various NGOs, do they work more often together? Is there a chance that in certain
areas we will have huge NGO’s? Kathy responded that there are those kind of trend in
the private park management, and Hassan added that there was a possibility of merger
for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Africa Wild Fund (AWF) and could be
efficient in a way that AWF would access the TNC’s funds and TNC would gain
programmes in the field. Hassan also went back to Katja’s question about the value
and translation of money into environmental gains. It is very hard to measure the
impact or well-being of people. In the case of AWF they have prioritized to pursue
wealth and organizational growth. There is less focus on mission and more on
institutional development. For the AWF it is important that the grants come in and
that they are gaining legitimacy. Catherine added that power is away from the
         Jim commented the irony of the conservationist projects in which conservation
is happening only by accident. There are so many examples of conservation projects
which attempt to get people off their land, not taking into consideration the needs of
the communities and creating the population of disposable people. The language of
new fundraising is getting “bigger”. Katherine Homewood (Kathy) agreed that in the
process of privatization of the land and nature people simply disappear.
         Mac gave his opinion on the developments of accountability in the NGO
sector, saying that funding for NGO started with little accountability and money was
given by the donors without worrying about the outputs. However, with time donors
came with indicators, surveys and reports and in the end it become very confusing and
“messy”. Donors are accountable to their funders and they want to have a programme
with an impact. They want to be the “shapers” and by giving exact guidelines for the
project implementation they demand accountability.
         Another theme regarded land tenure and conservation agenda. Shirley asked
how does the land ownership or lack of it affect people. Kathy responded that in
Kenya the land is privatized, however in Tanzania it’s state owned and therefore the
situation there is very different. In Tanzania the people in the poorest areas such as
Longido have no tenure rights on the grazing lands and therefore have little defense
against the state. On the other hand Masai (also in Tanzania) have acquired some kind
of land right and can profit from the tourism and have become quiet wealthy.
         George questioned the form of resistance from the populations against the
conservation and the way in which distance between the people and state have
become insurmountable. Kathy said that in Tanzania there is resistance however there
is also fear of violence and suppression of ethnicity. People have nowhere to go to
complain, if they do they will be stopped and persecuted. Hassan added that some
organizations realize the importance of bridging the disconnection between the
people, the top elites and the NGOs and try to change this situation.
         At the end Steve went back to the discussion of organizational growth and
questioned the logic behind wanting to get “bigger”. Is it true that by getting bigger,
the organization can do more of good work?

Panel III
Experiencing Reorganized Environments

Exploring new social geographies of private wildlife production: Farm owners and
farm dwellers in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape
Shirley Brooks, Famke Brandt, Khetha Lukhozi, Lungisile Ntsebeza, Dhoya Snijders,
Marja Sperenburg, Harry Wels

Ground of Reform: Environmental Movements, Conservation, and the Reconstrucion
of Indonesian Agrarian Environments
Nancy Lee Peluso, Suraya Affiff, Noer Fauzi Rachman

The Receiving End of Reform: Everyday Forms of Neoliberalization in Souhheastern
Peter Wilshusen

Communities and conservation. The struggle over wildlife resources in the Zambezi
Valley, Zimbabwe
Vupenyu Dzingirai
         The discussion after panel III circulated around the ideas of the relevance of
academic research, the ethics of getting information and the way in which
conservation projects interplay with other issues on the national level.
         During the final presentation, Vupenyu told as his difficulties in getting the
visa to come to the UK for the conference. When he presented the invitation to the
conference at the UK embassy, he was refused the first time. Only after second letter
from Dan B. was sent, the embassy staff decided that a mistake was made and finally
agreed to grant Vupenyu the visa for the UK entry. Katja asked how can we build an
exchanged between the scholars from south and north in the face of such difficulties.
The discussion followed with the theme of institutions and beaurocracy. Paige said
that there are institutions and officials on all levels of administration and they all
interplay with each other. Sometimes people can change, but institutions can do so
only rarely. Marija also said that there is struggle between individuals on different
levels in organizations and it is important to find the entry point for us as social
researchers. Nancy also agreed with the need to understand the institutions, however
the access to information is sometimes very difficult. Shirley questioned various
methods that researchers have to use to get the necessary information and they way in
which they sometimes need to be deceptive for it to happen.
         Tony asked about the process of conservation and how it maps on the national
level, how it intersects with human rights and other issue such as political parties and
the impact on national processes. Nancy responded that there is an important impact
of conservation on the national level in the case of Indonesia. She added that the role
of social researchers is to represent what is happening and clarify the labels. There
was a situation in Indonesia where the political discourse towards indigenous people
changed dramatically from describing indigenous people as victims to presenting
them as perpetrators of violence the next day. There is a need to challenge those labels
and categories.
         Final question was from Manoo and concerned the relationship between land
reform and conservation and the way in which they shape each other. Shirley said that
there was a lot of controversy about the land reform in South Africa. The land owners
work in partnership with conservationists and there is a lot of questions about what
should be a proper management. Often even though the farmers own their land they
still have to follow governments guidelines regarding partnership with
conservationists, for example they are advised to open game keeping on their land.

Final comments

The final comments were prepared by Nancy Lee Peluso and Noel Castree , who
summarized some of the important points as well as stressed some of the ideas which
were not discussed and were of importance for the topic of capitalism and
Nancy talked about the theories which were brought to our attention such as Marxism,
Gramsci, fetishisation and spectacle. Furthermore Nancy mentioned the importance of
social scientist becoming the criticizing force, the ethical consumption and ethical
methods of investigation. Additionally and important theme was the influence of
conservation projects on the national and sub-national level.

Noel’s comments
With the focus on capitalism we are obliged to see conservationism as power struggle.
It is interesting to look at the capitalism and ask whether we talk about capitalism in
conservation or conservation capitalism. Could we also present non-capitalist stories?
What about the differences between small and big NGOs? Another important question
is about the materiality of nature and the language of social construction.

        Katja commented on the materiality of nature and the idea of social
constructivism being taken to the extreme. In the context of bio-semiotics there is the
idea that non-human systems have mind-like properties. There is a need for
interdisciplinary approach. Paige added that we need to focus more on the processes
in which nature become material and how to engage with the conservation.
        Furthermore Mac talked about the ethics of research and the boundaries
between the researcher and informant.
        On his part, Ken reminded of the capitalism and regulatory structure and the
mechanism put in place to inhibit question. Additionally it is important to pay
attention to projects on various scales.
Shirley opened forum to a new theme of emotions and the way in which we, as
researchers have to deal with people’s emotions while doing our interviews. How do
we deal with hate and love? With people being very passionate about the issues of
investigation. Do we need to be cynical? Rosaleen followed up with the issue of
commodifiction of emotions. The way in which people want to experience certain
emotions and therefore pay to feed the sharks, taste unusual foods etc. Noel added that
we are paying for emotional experiences. What about the commodification of
animals, pet owner and the pleasure of interaction? Do we need to evaluate it?
Shirley: what about the emotions, how do we deal with that? Hate and love? Paige
West also mentioned our own emotions, what about the fact that we as researchers
have our own feelings and therefore value them above anything else and potentially
continue our research because of those emotions. Another issue was brought up by
Katja, who talked about the difficulty of talking about emotions and being at the
beginning of your career. In this case nobody would want to publish it (as it happened
in her case).
Steve underlined the importance of talking about the small projects and not only
discussing the big projects and NGOs. Ken said that there are small projects that
work, but usually they are on the small scale and on local level with the involvement
of local people. For example preserving environment in urban spaces through
communal efforts. Mac added that in the mid-80’s he was looking at some of what
were called “successful” projects in Mexico. When he went to the project sights he
simply couldn’t find any successful stories. The projects were nicely described and
everything was written down, unfortunately it weren’t true stories.

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Description: Conservation and Capitalism Notes