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Global hunting grounds: power, scale and ecology in the negotiation of conservation

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  • Anthropology
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Law
  • Linguistics
  • Literature
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science


Increasingly, large international conservation organizations have come to rely upon market-oriented interventions, such as sport trophy hunting, to achieve multiple goals of biodiversity protection and ‘development’. Such initiatives apply an understanding of ‘nature’-defined through an emerging discourse of global ecology-to incorporate local ecologies within the material organizational sphere of capital and transnational institutions, generating new forms of governmentality at scales inaccessible to traditional means of discipline such as legislation and enforcement. In this paper, I historicize debates over ‘nature’ in a region of northern Pakistan, and demonstrate how local ecologies are becoming subject to transnational institutional agents through strategies similar to those used by colonial administrators to gain ecological control over their ‘dominions’. This contemporary reworking of a colonialist ethic of conservation relies rhetorically on a discourse of global ecology, and on ideological representations of a resident population as incapable environmental managers, to assert and implement an allegedly scientifically and ethically superior force better able to respond to assumed degradation. In undertaking such disciplinary projects, international conservation organizations rely on, and produce, a representation of ecological space as ‘global’ to facilitate the attainment of translocal political-ecological goals.

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