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Reviewing 15 years of research on neoliberal conservation

13 October 2021

Speakers: Elia Apostolopoulou, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge and Dimitris Bormpoudakis, School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent.

Co-discussants: Kate Symons, Lecturer in Global Development and Les Levidow, Senior Research Fellow in Development Policy and Practice at The Open University.

Chair: Lorena Lombardozzi, Lecturer in Economics, The Open University

This talk presents findings from an extensive review of the neoliberal conservation literature, undertaken with the goal of exploring the ways in which conservation is neoliberalised, and how such processes have been studied. The research highlights both the breadth of the literature in unraveling the unequal social, spatial and environmental impacts of neoliberal conservation, but also unravels some key gaps, including a limited engagement with quantitative methods and community-engaged social sciences and humanities approaches, a lack of focus on urban areas and urbanization, some important gaps in the theorization of the commodification of nature, a domination of Global North scholarship that contradicts the clear empirical focus of the field on the Global South, a limited engagement with social movements and grassroots activism, and a conspicuous lack of attention to the dynamics of class, gender and race. The talk will outline this research and discuss implications for a development studies audience, particularly in light of major events like COP 26 and the recent G7 summit which for major actions in the area of sustainability and conservation.


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